UDC might disband after General Elections – possibly earlier!

17 Feb 2019

For the last few weeks, the UDC has been thrust so firmly into the public glare of our national politics.

Is the organization living up to the public scrutiny?

The jury is still out.

But so far the early optics are not so much encouraging. Emerging is a picture of an entity totally unable to withstand the elasticity strain.

There is really quite a plethora of reasons behind the decline of the Umbrella for Democratic Change.

Chief of those is the rise of Mokgweetsi Masisi who has addressed many of the concerns that the UDC had all along used as pivotal campaign issues.

The party has been left standing on one leg, and not a crutch to support the weak structure.

Other than the Masisi factor, a widespread deterioration of integrity will going forward prove UDC’s next elephant in the room.

Umbrella for Democratic Change seems to have set immense store based primarily on the outcome of the 2014 General Elections where they performed way better than even in their wildest dreams.

The party, especially its leadership seems to have discounted all that has happened since after 2014.

They have as a result not made effort to reinvent and come up with new innovations beyond 2014.

For them it is like life has been static and put in a freezer for all the five years since.

While the mood among general membership is growing uniquely gloomy, for some in leadership it’s all business as usual.

They are burying their heads in the sand.

While the possibility that the president of UDC might lose his parliamentary constituency is real, it does not seem like that is an issue for UDC – at least not yet.

The vice president for his part had to thrust himself into far flung rural areas as a carpetbagger to get any chance of resuscitating the dwindling odds of him coming back into parliament after losing his Gaborone Central in 2014.

The rancid outburst between Botswana National Front and the Botswana Congress Party over who the candidate for Gaborone Central should be, has highlighted how deep and volatile the fissures inside the UDC really are.

The skirmishes caught everyone, including the top leadership by surprise – highlighting just how far detached leadership is from the main body.

There is clearly a disciplinary void inside the UDC.

Indiscipline runs right from top leadership to youth structures, as seen by the language and behavior put out to the public as part of the dispute over Gaborone Central.

If electronic texts of conversations between top leaders that were leaked last year were a red-flag of the situation that was then fast developing, the weekend mis-behavior to announce candidates without due process was a sign of rampant wildfires already sweeping ablaze inside the UDC.

Indiscipline is however not the only totemic matter the UDC has to grapple with.

Even at its best of times, with a leadership that was at the time in touch and hands-on, the UDC was always an uneasy coalition.

At that time, the BNF hard left had a thinly veiled contempt for Ndaba Gaolathe, the then leader of Botswana Movement for Democracy, and defacto chief administrator of the UDC. They peddled stories of him being a BDP under the carpet.

Ndaba Gaolathe’s followers inside the BMD returned the favour.

Suave and more cosmopolitan BMD looked askance at the crude, unkempt and socially un-polished BNF masses who they dismissed as lacking brand and image consciousness.

The UDC is today going through its worst days.

The group’s long suppressed worst instincts are bursting to the surface.

As somebody so succinctly put it recently, the whole alliance has really been predicated on a lie.

And something based on a lie will in no time explode.

The lies and flash fights against one another only tell half the story.

The trust deficit especially at leadership levels poses a much bigger challenge for a party playing in a league where the bar has been raised to hitherto incredibly high levels.

As was to be expected, under the circumstances every outfit under the umbrella has now resorted to tribal partisan politics.

This area is the BCP home ground. And for their planners and strategists, they have a natural advantage.

The decision by BCP youth to announce one Dr Pheko as UDC candidate for Gaborone Central is actually a classical BCP modus operandi, cut and refined years ago shortly after the BCP was established.  It is called political kite-flying – which is the art of floating an idea to the public with the purpose of establishing how the public would react.

On its deployment of this strategy the party has in the past proven brazen and at times even reckless.

For the umpteenth time, this week the BCP thrust that same strategy into the public domain. And when it backfired an official spokesperson was at hand to provide what seemed like an official line.

Each party inside the UDC is really planning for a life after the UDC.

Every decision is taken, not for the good of UDC but based on parochial party line political calculations.

Deep down, each of the parties know so well that UDC is dead; alive only in name.

For each of them what little can now be salvaged should help each for a possible power grab post-UDC.

There is neither any long strategic long-term thinking nor planning between the UDC components.

The spirit of communality and common purpose has long dissipated.

It’s now every man for himself.

The conversational range inside the once ambitious movement has grown vanishingly short.

It has been reduced to a few words – fight, fight and fight.

And that fight means pitting a comrade against a comrade.

The objective is no longer about growing the UDC, and certainly not about improving its fortunes.

In short the UDC has gone beyond self-defeatist. It has become fatalistic.

This time the stakes are unprecedentedly high. There might be no UDC after October scheduled General Elections – possibly earlier.