Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Two vice presidents divide UDC

The Umbrella for Democratic Change faces a potential deal breaker over who is senior between Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President, Dumelang Saleshando and Botswana Movement for Democratic Change (BMD) president, Ndaba Gaolatlhe.

While UDC was already unhappy with the issue of two Vice presidents although they were given the senior vice presidency, it has now emerged that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) now insists that the two vice president positions are equal.

Sunday Standard investigations have intercepted an SMS correspondence between the BCP Vice President Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang and Botswana National Front (BNF) Vice President Reverend Prince Dibeela over the controversial issue. Dibeela and Gobotswang co-chaired the cooperation talks between the UDC and the BCP.

The fight over who is the first Vice President and the second vice President surfaced last weekend at a UDC meeting in Gantsi. This was after Dibeela told members of the UDC that BMD President Ndaba Gaolatlhe is the first Vice President of the UDC while BCP President Dumelang Saleshando is the second Vice President.

Sunday Standard intercepted a message sent by Gobotswang to Dibeela to clarify the Vice Presidency matter.

The message reads, “Cde how are you. Just bringing to your attention the report we received from our Gantsi local structures concerning the presentation made at UDC meeting held on Saturday, that there will be a first and second Vice President under the expanded UDC.  If this is what was reported in our view that will be contrary to the Oasis document which should form the basis of our consultative meetings. Can you please clarify the issue?”

Dibeela is yet to respond to Gobotswang’s questions.  Gobotswang confirmed sending the message to Dibeela but he was reluctant to talk about the details of the message. Dibeela also did not want to comment on the message.

According to information passed to Sunday Standard, the cooperation talks were chaired by Dibeela on behalf of the UDC and Gobotswang co-chaired the negotiations on the behalf of the BCP.

The two Vice Presidents of the BNF and BCP alternated in chairing the negotiations for almost two months.

The negotiations final script reveals that the negotiating team had agreed that the President was going to come from the BNF, the Vice President from the BMD the Secretary General from the BCP and Chairperson from the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).

The final script was then sent to all  Presidents of the contracting parties to the Umbrella for Democratic Change. However, for some reasons when the final decision reached BCP offices those who were sent by BCP to negotiate changed their minds and suggested that there should be two Vice Presidents.

Information obtained by Sunday Standard reveals that the UDC did not want two Vice Presidents. After the BCP suggested two Vice Presidents, UDC President Duma Boko convened UDC NEC urgent meeting where he advised not to fight for positions with BCP. Boko advised that the idea of having two Vice Presidents be permitted for the sake of the opposition coalition.

Sources who were part of the negotiations say they were surprised because they thought the position of Secretary General was a powerful position for BCP.

“But we then agreed that if that’s what the BCP wants we would trade the positions of vice presidents with removing UDC + which the BCP had wanted.  We were not willing to negotiate the UDC+ that is how the issue of two vice Presidents came about and the position of Secretary General was abandoned.”

Information further suggest that after agreeing to BCP demands, a decision was taken that the first Vice President shall go to BMD because they had been in the system for the last five years.

“BMD was considered partners that have been anchoring the movement and cannot just be discarded. It was an agreed compromise and that is how it should have been reported at the Oasis Press briefing,” sources said.

They say unfortunately the communiqu├® was not that clear and it appears to the BCP that the positions of vice presidents are at par.

Last weekend BNF Vice President Dibeela was invited to Gantsi where he was asked to explain the issues of two vice Presidency. Dibeela explained that Gaolatlhe was first Vice President while Saleshando was second Vice President.


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