Up until the unofficial cooperation between the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) was mooted and forced down the throats of voters, the UDC presented itself as a credible, attractive and clean alternative that sold a consistent, feasible and comprehensive message of hope for a better future.
The UDC presented itself as a serious coalition; a united front seeking to offer Batswana a substantially different type of politics that makes the welfare of the ordinary voter the focal point of development intervention.
As a result, for the first time since independence voters believed that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was going to be defeated at the polls so much that a number of established BDP operatives started considering jumping ship before it ultimately sunk.
Senior citizens many of who are known for being overly conservative and somewhat resistant to change started warming up for a historic moment of having a non-BDP government. The BDP leadership was in panic mode and had lost their usual arrogance, confidence and swagger.
All the UDC had to do was to remain focused and spread their nicely packaged charming message to the furthest parts of the country in a bit to convince those who have been made to believe that their poverty is a Godly decree.
There was no need for a bromance with the newly formed BPF neither was there any need to believe that the BDP renegades and wealthy fugitives would ensure a runaway victory or a walkover. The UDC sudden confidence in defectors and a propensity to win by hook or by crook partly account for the ultimate implosion of the otherwise well-oiled coalition.
The reconfiguration of the UDC complicated matters, caused anguish and anger amongst voters and polluted the people’s project. The damned electoral cooperation somewhat lifted the veil of deception of politicians and introduced the UDC into criminal politics where money is worshipped and tossed about with impunity.
While it cannot be said with certainty that the UDC-BPF loose cooperation is largely responsible for the UDC’s unexpected collapse at the polls, circumstantial evidence in the form of voting patterns points in that direction. The UDC is yet to share a full report or officially provide a detailed reaction on its dismal performance at the polls and proposed measures to avoid a similar situation in the future. It is only after such a report is shared for public consumption that we may competently apportion blame.
Whereas the UDC is yet to address its members and apprise them of their intended course of action in respect of the outcome of the General Election, the BPF patron continues to speak about these issues possibly from within the UDC, for the UDC and with their blessing. Newspaper reports that former President Dr Khama has urged the UDC to challenge election results are a source of great concern.
Dr Khama is reported to have remarked that ‘there might have been some irregularities and that is what WE [my emphasis] are going to find out. I think they [UDC] performed much better than what the results demonstrated. And these results as we know are going to be challenged in court’ (Mmegi, 1st November 2019).
The UDC has capable and learned people mandated to always act in the best interest of the coalition. The UDC is a people’s project and has no business in serving the interests of certain individuals. The UDC also has party officials designated to speak on its behalf and for Dr Khama to declare himself a spokesperson of the movement is troubling and causes a lot of anxiety.
At this stage, election matters particularly those relating to petitions and allegations of rigging are considered very sensitive and only those mandated to speak on behalf of their parties must do so and do so in a manner that acknowledges the sensitivity of the issue.
Logic dictates that if former president Dr Khama is not happy with the election results he must solely speak for the BPF crew and speak about what action BPF intends to take. He must leave out the UDC unless there is something that the public has yet to know.
Dr Khama’s obsession with the UDC could create legitimate fears that the former president is planning and is already at an advanced stage to hijack the people’s project. It is common knowledge that many well-meaning initiatives often end up being coopted, subverted or simply hijacked by powerful individuals desirous to pursue their personal agenda.
Former president Dr Khama is on record stating that he will not rest until Dr Masisi was removed from the presidency. Since the BPF’s performance is nowhere near a miracle win and cannot be used to launch any lawful alternative strategy to remove President Dr Masisi, it is likely that Dr Khama would naturally see the UDC as a springboard, since he already considers himself a friend of the movement.
His disregard for the UDC’s official structures for communicating party position and his display of strongman habits points to s predatory behavior that is inherent in people who desire to pounce and seize established political formations in order to perpetuate their power.
It is true that the opposition has always struggled to raise campaign funds and therefore always under to accept money from whatever source irrespective of its origin. In 2019, the UDC seems to have had substantial campaign revenue raising concerns that they were receiving dirty money.
Dr Khama’s unwillingness to stay away from the UDC gives credence to widespread suspicions that he could be one of the coalition’s sponsors who wanted to use the UDC as a vehicle to achieve his political objective of removing Dr Masisi from the presidency.
It is no secret that sponsors across sectors and disciplines would want to get mileage for their efforts and in the sphere of politics, sponsors often demand considerable degree of control over the parties or individuals that they sponsor in order to exact returns on investment.
In a way, Dr Khama’s behavior is reinforcing the perception that those who financed the UDC election campaigns had included certain conditions that would ultimately give them significant amount of control over the movement. In effect, the highly patronized UDC is now at the mercy of a political godfather who cannot be called to order.
Flawed as it may have been and given to shooting itself on the foot at every election and even after the recent heartbreaking setback, the UDC looked like the only credible political movement destined to end BDP’s rule of over 53years. But now the UDC seems set to have been sold out.
The movement is at risk of being hijacked (if it hasn’t been already) by a millionaire predator-cum tribal supremacist who want Botswana to be his own world. Power knows nothing but power. Hijacking the UDC would be the surest way by Dr Khama to return to power directly or indirectly.
First the UDC was contaminated with unconventional politics that centered on hatred and extreme pettiness from their BPF friends to a point where its (UDC) programmatic politics based on sound promises could no longer be recognized. That initial friendship and loose cooperation has now morphed into an imminent takeover by a stealth schemer who always screams the loudest about UDC family matters.
Whatever remains of the UDC, the painful reality is that it is no longer recognizable and its image has been vandalized and disfigured to a point where its rabid followers are ashamed to defend it as they used to before the General Election.
The UDC no longer inspires confidence and has become a cocktail of day dreamers, bully-boys, criminals and celebrity visitors from hell who are angry that the UDC is taking too long to collapse so that they can harvest its sumptuous parts.
For all their political acumen and professed adoration for the Khama magic and for their submissiveness to be tickled by the self-importance of a self-proclaimed warlord, the UDC leadership would fare worse than traitors for mortgaging the people’s revolution.
For letting the revolution to be hijacked right under their noses because people chose to follow their leaders without question and/or demonize those who sought to blow the whistle for a conspiracy to introduce the UDC into a criminal brand of politics, ordinary members cannot complain when they get described as the scum of the earth, waste of space or some loudmouthed yobs used as promotional items!