Monday, April 19, 2021

UB elections reveal power of coalitions

University of Botswana election voting for the Student Representative Council went late into the day Thursday, with a coalition between the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) receiving 11 spots, with only a few going to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which had previously held all seats.

Rallies by all parties had been frequent in recent days, with Wednesday night’s rallies going late into the night.

But it was the BNF-BCP coalition which prevailed, upsetting the BDP, whose presence on campus and large rallies (stage and music included) led many to assume them as the favourites.

The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) appeared to have unwittingly split the votes in favour of the coalition.

Asked what significance this election (and particularly the BNF-BCP coalition) would have on the national level, one BNF member said that he hoped such coalition solidarity could be found on the national level, saying that negotiations had taken place and would hopefully bare results soon.

While no questions about electoral integrity were being raised, events from the preceding days have caused many to pause.

Questions into where funding for rallies, particularly from the BDP – which featured performances by popular local singers Dr Vom, Ntsoro, and Vee – was coming from.

These artists were paid as much as P2000 for their time. Some suspected exorbitant resources and heavy influence were beginning to undermine the electoral process.

However, the less funded underdogs took the day.

While UB elections hardly act as a predictor of future voting patterns, opposition party success, particularly through coalition building, does offer an illustrative example of future possibilities for opposition cooperation. It also suggests that there is a young independent voting population that is open to the idea of new voting options.

The students of UB are the future leaders of Botswana, and while there is a difference in the seriousness of university elections vis-├á-vis national elections, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference by the passion and effort put forth by those involved.

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