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A controversial opposition politician was reportedly handed a war chest of P12 million to execute what became a successful intelligence operation to destabilise the opposition alliance.
According to sources, the operation had two phases. The first was to break up the Botswana Movement for Democracy and thereafter, the Umbrella for Democratic Change, which at the time was made up of the Botswana National Front, Botswana People’s Party and BMD itself. Formed by a breakaway faction from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, BMD was an important part of the opposition coalition. Unlike other UDC partners, the party had a concentration of people with superior knowledge and understanding of running a government. The chief author of UDC’s 2014 election manifesto was Ndaba Gaolathe, a financial economist with international consultancy experience who was UDC’s head of policy and BMD’s founding policy director. The assessment of a rogue unit within the Directorate of Intelligence Services, which under former President Ian Khama was an intelligence/armed wing of the BDP, was that BMD was the strongest link in the UDC chain. DIS is said to have given a senior party member P12 million to break up the party and after that what would remain of UDC.
Indeed the party broke up at a violent national congress that was held in Bobonong. Two factions, one led by Advocate Sidney Pilane and another by Ndaba, held two competing congresses and each elected a president. Gaolathe’s later broke away to form the Alliance for Progressives which is not part of UDC. At this point, the Botswana Congress Party had come into the UDC fold. The DIS operative then turned his attention to UDC, recruiting some of its senior figures as accomplices. The operation to destabilise UDC is said to have been ongoing at the time that Khama stepped down in April 1 this year. Under a new president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, and its new Director General, DIS is being decriminalized but the rogue unit is believed to still be active and acting against both the state and national interest. The destabilisation plot is succeeding because UDC is coming apart at the seams, with BMD having been controversially suspended a fortnight ago.
A source at the Ministry of Justice, Defence and Security says that with Khama and Masisi feuding, the operation would have taken a different form. Khama wants UDC to remain strong enough to align with a BDP faction that supports him and so aligned, use parliamentary processes to topple Masisi. This and the original plan to break up UDC would achieve the same objective: usher in a new president who will protect Khama’s commercial and other interests. In the event an infiltrated UDC comes into official power in next year’s elections, it would be too severely compromised to prosecute Khama whose ten-year rule was characterised by a law-breaking spree.