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The plot to delay assumption of official power by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is said to have taken an unusual and interesting turn, with some party leaders being used in a new plot to oust President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The original plot was to break up UDC by going after its most prized asset – the Botswana Movement for Democracy – whose formation energised Botswana’s opposition movement. The other parties in the opposition coalition (Botswana National Front, Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana People’s Party) have been around for decades but have never really threatened the Botswana Democratic Party’s hold on power. That changed with the formation of both BMD and UDC.
Seeing BMD as the strongest UDC link, the government concocted a plot to weaken the opposition coalition by breaking up BMD. The drama that would lead to the chaotic Bobonong national congress, the formation of the Alliance for Progressives and the ongoing infighting in the UDC. As a leaked WhatsApp exchange between UDC leaders shows, the opposition collective exists in all but name. This plot, which is now an open secret, was masterminded by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) and fully endorsed by top echelons of the BDP leadership.
In the process of breaking up UDC, BDP leaders recruited some UDC leaders as underground operatives – the plot would actually have failed if that had not happened. These operatives – who include an MP – compromised themselves and have allegedly been weaponised in a new plot that targets President Masisi.
On ascending the presidency on April 1 this year, Masisi inherited a deeply criminalised government and his attempts to decriminalize it are being fiercely resisted by senior BDP figures who fear that the net is closing in on them as the new president wages a massive anti-corruption crusade. Such crusade is so extensive that some ministers are said to be subjects of criminal investigations being undertaken by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime. An anti-Masisi faction, with tentacles that reach as far as parliament and cabinet itself, has emerged from within the BDP itself. Its short-term goal is to resist Masisi’s aggressive reform agenda and its long-term one is to oust him as the party presidential candidate for the 2019 general election. UDC operatives that were used to break up the opposition collective have reportedly been roped in to help get rid of Masisi under the guise of doing legitimate opposition politics by using legitimate parliamentary and legal processes. In the case of the MP in question, this plot takes the form of him using parliament as a launching pad to attack, armed with information supplied by his BDP handlers and working towards ousting Masisi from office.
Some UDC activists have long suspected this MP of having DISS links. In one instance, he is said to have repeated verbatim to a closed WhatsApp group, the actual words that an opponent of his had used in a telephone conversation with a party colleague. Opposition leaders themselves know that their phones are tapped but the reproduction of the telephone conversation was circumstantial evidence that the MP in question had had access to the intercepted communication. UDC activists also worry a lot about the suspicious closeness between this MP and figures that played a key role in the demise of both BMD and UDC.
Having compromised himself by receiving huge sums of money as payment for his services, this MP is vulnerable to manipulation and according to a source, is now under “tremendous pressure” to deliver the goods. Failure to do so exposes him grave consequences, which include exposing him as punishment.