The umbrella is crumbling

09th July 2018
MEN AT WAR: Dumelang Saleshando and Sidney Pilane were at each other’s throat Source:The Midweek Sun


By Nicholas Mokwena - Reporter

The genie is out of the bottle and there is no longer any time to deny that the coalition movement, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is in turmoil.

Its leader Advocate Duma Boko has on several occasions maintained that all is well with the UDC. But a leaked controversial UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) conversation confirms that there has never been peace within the UDC especially since the February congress.

There was debate as to the nature of the congress as there were conflicting statements. The congress has failed to produce the intended results of making UDC a formidable political force. Advocate Boko could learn from the leaked conversation that he has an uphill battle and his promise of a strong campaign for 2019 general elections would not be an easy task with a fragile NEC.

It is now clear that the NEC, which has on several occasions failed to meet and discuss critical issues raised during the congress, is not united. Now the leadership, especially from Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) will never settle and become one family. This long standing feud between BCP and BMD over constituency allocation is the same that collapsed Umbrella One (1). The BMD of Advocate Sidney Pilane has accused the BCP of sabotaging them during by-elections because the BCP wants to prove that BMD is just a burden.

BCP on the other hand has accused BMD of being a stumbling block for BCP to be officially welcomed into the UDC as per the new Constitution. From a reading of the conversation between Advocate Pilane and his counterpart from BCP Dumelang Saleshando, it would take more effort to restore peace.There are also fears that this could provide the basis for BCP to decide to leave the UDC during its conference in Bobonong. This is because already, a number of BCP leaders have been calling for the BCP to bolt out of what they deem an unstable project.

Only the BCP leader Saleshando has been known to have exercised restraint on the call for his party to withdraw, but his Monday utterances that “the UDC might as well disband” and that he would not be encouraging his party members to vote for the BMD candidates within the UDC, have sparked renewed excitement among BCP members who feel the time is now right for a decision to be made to quit.

Another contracting partner Botswana National Front (BNF) led by Advocate Boko will also be heading for Rakops these President’s Holidays , dogged by claims that the party rank and file wants BNF to pull out of UDC. It is an open secret that for some time now, a reported tiff between the party President and his Vice Prince Dibeela has been sowed by their differing views on the  affairs of the UDC. The VP in his reported convictions against the BMD led by Pilane is said to enjoy the support of other high-ranking officials within the leadership of the BNF, with Boko having been the only stumbling block towards booting out the BMD.

Although the BNF leadership has in the open made public denials of the rift in relation to the BMD of the UDC, it is a matter that is said to have set the leadership on a collision course, with the denials only staged for the public image of the umbrella project and the BNF. Now the membership also feels the time is ripe for the BNF to disentangle itself from a UDC that includes BMD

What sparked the heated argument in the leaked exchange was a statement by Advocate Pilane that the BCP and BNF should be blamed for the UDC loss in Moshupa-Manyana by-election. UDC was represented by BMD in the constituency which is also currently a centre of debate between BMD and BNF as both parties claim they have to be allocated the constituency.

Both the BNF and BCP leadership did not take kindly to the accusation, with Saleshando being the more incensed. He likened Pilane to ‘a Trump that explodes saying only he knows the truth,’ further describing him as ‘downright disrespectful and rude.’

Retorted Saleshando: “We always get asked questions by the public gore what do we hope to achieve with you. Moshupa people have rejected you and your BMD. Others are going to continue to reject you. You tore apart the base that BNF and BCP had built. I had hoped that comrade Boko will counsel you on basics of leadership, but I guess he realises you are beyond redemption.”

He added: “This group may as well be disbanded. Your poison has killed what we tried to build for Batswana. I now understand why Batswana in their quiet way mistrust you and regard you a criminal.” All the while, UDC President Advocate Boko was quiet, but would at a later stage appeal for calm. An irate  Saleshando would respond, warning Boko to just keep quiet ‘for good’ and stay on his lane as  he had failed to reprimand Advocate Pilane.

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