On the surface, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is a coalition at peace with itself. The coalition comprises Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP).
After concluding the intricate exercise of allocating constituencies among member partners, the coalition should be gearing itself up for next year’s general election, in full swing.
Howevr, beneath the calm simmers hostility as some member partners continue to jostle for wards in allocated constituencies.
The hostilities are tearing the coalition apart in Tati West where the BNF is accusing the BPP of bad faith. The acrimony has even reached the BNF secretariat as the constituency ward committee has written requesting that it be allocated at least two wards.
The BNF secretariat has however not replied, to the dismay of ward committee that is now threatening to also field its own candidates in some Tati West council wards at the upcoming general election next year.
BNF Tati West constituency coordinator Wangu Gordon in correspondence dated October 23, 2013 in possession of this
publication complained to the party secretary general that BPP has not yet decided on the two wards they have asked to be allocated. The BNF wants to be allocated Masunga and Mosojane wards which the BPP is not prepared to let go.
In the letter, Gordon wrote that “we confirm that BPP has up to now not decided on the two wards to be allocated to the BNF. Strangely, BPP has fielded candidates in the wards we requested. We declare the matter under dispute”.
In a telephone interview, Gordon confirmed that the BNF secretary general has not responded to their complaints and the only available option is for them to also field their┬áown candidates in the wards under dispute.
In an earlier letter dated 10th May 2013, the BNF complained to the BPP that since the launch of the UDC on the 10th of November, 2012, it (BNF) has been sidelined in political activities of the constituency.
“We are aware that your party has been allocated the constituency for coordination. As such, we are not given any information on your activities and on how you have decided on the allocation of council wards,” wrote Gordon in addition to requesting for an urgent meeting that has to date not taken place.
Asked why the BNF was interested in those wards while the constituency was allocated to BPP, Gordon explained that his party is allowed in terms of the UDC proposed strategy for allocation of wards, especially past electoral performance criteria that states that “in a situation where a candidate representing one of the contracting parties in the last general election obtained a popular vote of 48 percent or more, that party must be given first priority in the allocation”.
The strategy states that the allocation of wards amongst constituent parties of the UDC in the various local authorities is a complex exercise that requires judicious balance between the collective interests of the parties involved and that of the people to be served.
The main object of the strategy is to produce a cadre of local councillors that are truly representative of and acceptable to all structures of the UDC across the length and breadth of the country. The desired outcome of the strategy must be improvement in the delivery of services to Batswana.
The strategy seeks to inspire public confidence as well as being objective and all inclusive. Seven criteria of incumbency, past electoral performance of contracting parties, presence and visibility of party at local level, lead party in a parliamentary constituency be allocated 60 percent share of the council wards with the 40 percent to be shared between the other two parties.