The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) would like to thank all those voters who placed a mark against its symbol in the General Elections. As a party that was contesting the General Elections for the first time, we are happy with the number of seats we got. To get 17 seats in a General Election in Botswana as an opposition party is a huge achievement.
From the voting patterns and results of these elections, there are two important points to note;
That the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is in power by default. Though under the current constitution there is nothing wrong with this scenario, the fact that the BDP could not achieve over 50 per cent of the popular vote shows that Batswana do not accept it as the right party to lead them. Under this legal conundrum, the BDP with under 50 per cent of the popular vote occupies 65 per cent of seats in Parliament. This is before the addition of four specially elected MPs who the party will draw from its members because of its ‘majority’. This raises the question of legitimacy and justifies our calls for a hybrid system, a system that accommodates first past the post and Proportional representation.
That Batswana want opposition parties to work together. The voters chose UDC because of what it stands for. UDC as a party is premised on bringing opposition parties to effect regime change. We are not referring to changes of faces of those in leadership. The change that we are talking about involves complete overhaul and transformation of how things are done in the country. It involves overhauling the economic superstructure to ensure that Batswana have a better life.
However, as long as the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) continues to stay out of the UDC, change of government which the nation is yearning for as shown by the results will demand more effort than it would otherwise be the case. If all the opposition parties had been under the UDC in these Elections, the BDP would be the opposition. The BDP won over 15 seats in which it was the minority if you add the total number of votes cast for the opposition. Other seats that it won with a margin of less than 1 000 votes would also have been won by the UDC after adding the total opposition vote.
If you take the 17 seats from the UDC and the three that the BCP got and add the over 15 seats mentioned above, conservatively the opposition would have attained around 35 seats. Obviously, the united opposition would have attracted swing votes and created a lot of excitement among the voters which could have given the UDC about five or more additional seats.
With the current situation where there is no funding for political parties, we would also have attracted more sponsors for our campaigns which would have led to a more effective and efficient campaign. To form a government in Botswana where there are 57 seats in parliament, you only require a minimum of 29 seats, a number that we would have easily surpassed.
The UDC will now focus attention on strengthening the party and calls upon all patriotic Batswana to align themselves with this political Tsunami which will sweep the boards in the next elections. We will continue to be the voice of the downtrodden.