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New opposition, same old divisions in Botswana politics

Story from: CAJ News Africa

Botswana flag

Botswana flag

from KATLEGO SIBANDA in Gaborone, Botswana
GABORONE, (CAJ News) – THE entrance of a new kid on the Botswana political block has thrown opposition politics into disarray and is diminishing prospects of halting one of the longest reigns in the African continent.
Seven years after breaking away from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), is reeling from its own split after firebrand leader, Ndaba Gaolathe, led a splinter group after his ouster as president of the latter.
Gaolathe’s ouster and formation of the newly-announced Alliance for
Progressives (AP), also brings to a halt his participation in Umbrella for United Democratic Change (UDC), a coalition of various opposition parties founded in
2012 to challenge the BDP, in power since independence from Britain 51 years ago.
AP is not yet affiliated to UDC, which further signals the shaky structures within the opposition ahead of the general election in 2019.
“There are those who say unity first, and then honesty, justice and sincerity come later,” Gaolathe took a swipe at the alliance.
“We say honesty, justice and sincerity must be the foundation on which unity will be built. Once we have these, they will attract like-minded citizens under a natural unifying force of a value system that stands the test of time,” he said while launching AP.
Gaolathe demanded a genuine spirit of unity from the UDC.
“The people of Botswana must rest assured that the AP wants more than the unity of the opposition. We also want to play a large role in uniting all our people (Batswana), our entire nation,” he assured.
Gaolathe said AP’s refusal to compromise with other forces that did not share the same values should not be misconstrued as hate.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of an arrangement with the UDC.
“This will obviously need the input and guidance of our members at the appropriate time and forum,” Gaolathe said.
“We long for a Botswana where there is a place for honesty, justice,
integrity and decency. There has to be a place for tough love. And we have chosen it must start with us.”
Phenyo Butale, the AP Secretary General shares the same sentiments on genuine unity.
He said the new party is open to accommodate and associate with all.
“We are a new political party that aims to seek out all progressive across the country and that does not exclude anyone,” Butale said.
Other opposition parties in UDC include the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
Initially, the opposition was anticipating a landslide victory in the next general election, buoyed by the growing discontent prevailing across the country over BDP’s alleged misrule.
The last general elections held in 2014 earned the BDP an 11th straight victory after winning 37 of the 57 elected seats.
Analysts projected the new opposition to play a major role in influencing the outcome of the 2019 polls.

“The new party has young and vibrant politicians,” said Prof. Zibani
Maudeni political analyst and professor of political science at the
University of Botswana.

“There is a possibility that they may bounce back. What I know about these
guys (Gaolathe and allies) is that they are vigorous campaigners. They
destroyed the BCP in 2014,” Maudeni said.

During the last elections, Gaolathe and allies vigorously campaigned for
UDC with their shrewd campaigns denting Khama’s camp and BCP, the fellow
opposition party BMD had divergent views.

“They target you as an individual. If their opponents don’t respond in
kind, it will be game over for them. They tarnished President Khama’s name
so bad prior to the elections that he had to run around constituencies
many times campaigning in 2014 because he could see power slipping away
through his fingers,” said Maudeni.

BCP contested the 2014 elections independently.

Khama won 46,5 percent of the presidential vote ahead of UDC’s Duma Boko
(30 percent) and BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando, third with 20,4 percent.

The results were damaging for the ruling party, whose dominance dropped
from 53,5 percent.

– CAJ News

This post is from CAJ News Africa. Click here to read the full text

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