Parties unite against Khama
Gaborone ‑ The newly-launched coalition of opposition parties in Botswana, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has received the backing of the Africa Liberal Network (ALN).
The UDC hopes to unseat President Seretse Khama Ian Khama in the 2014 general election.
ALN brings together 34 political parties/organisations from 25 African countries.
While this may appear to be a significant breakthrough for the UDC, the main drawback could be the perception that the ALN constitutes overly neo-liberal formations like South Africa’s Democratic Alliance, Kenya’s Orange Democratic Movement and Zambia’s UPND.
Another key member is Alassane Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans, which assumed power in Cote d’Ivoire on the back of French military intervention.
Furthermore, the country’s third-largest party, the Botswana Congress Party, is not part of the coalition.
The party said it would contest the 2014 polls on its own, adding that a coalition would not guarantee a stable government.
Botswana’s opposition parties have failed to unseat the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
In a statement read on his behalf at the UDC launch, ALN president Olivier Kamitatu – a former rebel leader in the DRC – said: “The moment at which those from across the political spectrum resolved to cast aside their differences and unite for the future of Botswana has finally arrived.”
Kamitatu added “it has become increasingly clear in recent years that the current regime has betrayed the trust of Batswana”.
“Instead, a small clique has privatised the state and abuse the powers conferred to them by the people.
“There should be diversity, inclusivity and transparency in the decision-making process.
“But the ruling Botswana Democratic Party no longer espouses these values; it has become a closed party, which has been in government for too long.”
The launch of UDC was the culmination of an extended period of consultations among opposition parties in the country.
Mothabane Maphanyane, who was the member of the Committee for the Strengthening of Democracy, which spearheaded the dialogue for opposition’s unity said the process was characterised by numerous challenges since it began in 2005.
It was essential for the opposition to join forces after realising that they were splitting the votes, yet gradually gaining popularity garnering over 45 percent of the ballots collectively, Maphanyane said.
The leader of Botswana National Front (BNF), Duma Boko, was elected president of UDC.
Boko said the merger of the BNF, BMD and BPP bears a potent equity necessary to bring about changes in the political landscape and in the lives of people.
“UDC is a united trinity that stands on its promises. The three opposition parties stood by the public service workers last year during the public service strike.
He said the dominance of the Botswana Democratic Party has resulted in massive corruption that permeates public organisational structures, he said.
“The UDC brand is targeted at the young voter who is interested in effective regime change.
“This young voter’s loyalty is a good deal more sophisticated than the old, it is targeted at young people inspired to do better for the country,” revealed Boko.