Duma Boko unites opposition parties to rival ruling BDP

After months of speculation, the main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) this week announced their eagerly anticipated coalition with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Addressing the media at a packed press conference, UDC president, Duma Boko said the BCP is officially part of the UDC. This means that all opposition parties in the country have now united under the UDC banner.

Boko said they have agreed to retain the UDC name with a new brand the new colour of which is royal blue.

Boko said;

“Our colour was decided before the 2011 talks collapsed, which is royal blue. We will be looking forward to creatives in the party to develop the new brand.”

The parties will collectively continue to pursue a Social Democratic Programme. A joint statement from the parties states;

“The policy framework will be shared with all key national stakeholders to ensure that our programme is truly aligned with the aspirations and wishes of our people.”

The National Executive Committee comprises sixteen members; with each party represented by four members. The President, who will have two vice presidents, will head the committee.

The Presidency has been given to the BNF, while the BCP and the BMD will occupy the two Vice Presidency positions. The BPP has been given the Chairpersonship, administrative secretary and legal affairs secretary roles. The BNF will also take communications head and labour secretary, while the BCP will also have treasurer and gender affairs positions. The BMD will also hold national coordinator and youth affairs roles. Each party will also be expected to nominate an additional person to serve in the NEC. The BCP has been allocated 17 constituencies, the BNF 22 seats, the BMD 14 seats while the BPP gets four.

The statement says that where a party that has been allocated a constituency is not able to identify a suitable candidate, it will be expected to approach the other parties for assistance in that regard. In case of assuming power, the six specially elected members of parliament positions will be distributed among the parties. BPP will be given two seats while other parties get one each. The sixth seat will be given to that of the latter three substantive constituent groups, which will have won the lowest number of constituencies in the elections.  Constituencies will allocate the wards. The whole process is expected to have been completed by March.

A UDC National Conference will coincide with conferences of the contracting parties and held within the same location. According to Boko, the new party will contest all the incoming elections as “one symbol.” “The name of the party will remain the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

He explained;

“There was an agreement on policies. The contracting parties will collectively continue to pursue a Social Democratic Programme. The policy framework will be shared with all key national stakeholders to ensure that our programme is truly aligned with the aspirations and wishes of our people.”

With regards to the individual membership, the group membership enjoyed by the four parties, individual membership will also be allowed.

“The members who fall under this category will enjoy limited rights and in order to enjoy full rights like other members they will have to join one of the contracting parties.”

According to Boko, the negotiations have not been easy. There were huge challenges, which he said is normal in any negotiation.

He stated;

“Sure proof that there have been real negotiations is when no negotiator walks out of the negotiation table feeling triumphant because negotiations are by nature not a zero sum exercise. You win some and lose some. What is, however, important and makes us look back on this journey with a sense of pride and joy is that today marks an important milestone as we announce our coming together to form one body.”

Boko further added that the successful conclusion of this process would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment of the leadership and the entire membership of the four parties. This, he said “was a response to the pleas by the opposition people to stop splitting votes and work together.”

He highlighted that the most prominent instance of vote splitting was in the 2014 General Elections, where the opposition joint popular vote sat at 53.55% while the ruling party attained only 46.45%.

“Our experiences from the previously failed attempts to unite as the opposition and the continued misrule by the BDP fortified our resolve to ensure that we delivered this project.”

Boko also said the negotiating parties’ genuine commitment is bound to deliver a fair, durable and sustainable deal.

UDC Figures at a Glance

  • UDC/BCP partnership to contest under UDC
  • BCP allocated 17 constituencies, BNF 22, BMD 14, BPP 4
  • All the parties to contest the elections under one symbol
  • There will be 2 VP’s – 1 from BMD, the other from BCP
  • The BPP has been allocated the UDC chairpersonship

What do you think of the opposition parties’ coming together? Do you believe it’s enough to stop the ruling BDP in its track in the 2019 elections?

Source: Weekend Post, MmegiOnline
Picture credit: www.gpweekly.com

10 months ago