By Thobo Motlhoka
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko has expressed his wish for a united opposition come 2019 general elections. Speaking to Sunday Standard following his response to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) Boko said there were no permanent enemies in politics and as such the door remains open for all those willing to work with his UDC. “Nothing is for certain, you never know what will happen between now and next year.”
Boko also made reference to opposition unity in his SONA response. “I embrace you all without paying regard to the temporary barriers of party or indeed the temporising agonies of our separation from each other,” he said, referring to opposition Members of Parliament. “I look forward to that point in our journey, when we will all reunite and refuse to remain imprisoned in any entrenched divisions.”
Boko’s remarks come just a couple of weeks after expelling the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the UDC for what they termed bringing the coalition into disrepute. The BMD however rejected the ruling, calling it unlawful and a conspiracy to dispossess them of constituencies they earned in negotiations undertaken by all four parties when the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) sought to join UDC. “Greed and an unwillingness to share power, long a hallmark of opposition politics in Botswana prior to the emergence of the BMD on the scene and the sole reason for uninterrupted BDP misrule, continues to betray the people’s hunger for a change of government,” the BMD said.
Speaking to Sunday Standard following Boko’s response to the SONA, BMD Secretary Generally would rather not speak on the subject of opposition unity saying they still had some pending issues to resolve before they could think about 2019 and beyond. In his response to the SONA Alliance for Progressives (AP) leader Ndaba Gaolathe was all about presenting the AP as the only alternative.
“The Alliance for Progressives is an alliance of all peoples that not only share in this dream but hold high a set of values. They believe in the truth, integrity, decency, honesty and the respect of the sanctity of the human life. We, the Progressives believe in fairness and excellence and that one day Botswana will be led by men and women who share these values,” Gaolathe said, adding “The Alliance for Progressives is a new alliance, an alliance of people from all political and economic persuasions, people of all ages, the forgotten and the prominent, men and women who are thirsty for something special and transformative.” Speaking recently AP Secretary General Phenyo Butale dismissed any possibilities of working together with UDC. “We do not believe that direct discussion with a UDC that is focused on resolving its internal issues is time more wisely spent than to continue with our current agenda of giving Botswana a clear option for an alternative party founded on a vision to transform the lives of our people and inspire by a value system of integrity, honest and respect of the sanctity of the human life.” He said the AP had no desire to engage in any talks with the UDC. If anything, Butale said, the AP would negotiate with individual parties that make up the UDC.