- UDC wants to scrap primary elections
- BCP rejects idea of no primaries
- There are fears primaries may divide UDC
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is reported to be considering avoiding primary elections being held prior to the 2024 general elections for fear that doing so could render the coalition factious.
Sources say the NEC believes the primary elections could even lead to outright divisions in the UDC. Perhaps as a first step to forbidding primaries, Boko was telling UDC members over the weekend that the coalition will not hold primaries in constituencies where it won in the 2019 general elections.
Violation of democratic rights
But reports are that not holding primaries may cause divisions within the coalition because some of its members hold that it is a violation of their democratic rights.
On the other hand, The Botswana Gazette has established that the four opposition MPs namely Onnetse Ramogapi, Never Tshabang, Dithapelo Keorapetse and David Tshere, are likely to stand unopposed in their various constituencies under the UDC and that a possibility of other candidates emerging is not ruled out. All four are under suspension from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). The UDC won a total of 14 constituencies in the 2019 general elections, the BCP 11, while the Botswana National Front (BNF) won only three seats.
However, the UDC subsequently lost two of the 14 constituencies when Pono Moatlhodi and Aubrey Lesaso defected to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Although it already appears that the BCP will not be a part of the UDC for the 2024 general elections, the party has come out to strongly to condemn the idea of proscribing primary elections.
“We are also shocked that the UDC NEC has the audacity to dictate to its member parties not to hold primary elections to select candidates in the constituencies they manage,” states part of a press release issued by the BCP on Tuesday.
“It is unfortunate that the UDC is mimicking the BDP, which is also considering banning primary elections,” the BCP continued. “The BCP values internal democracy and will not go the UDC-BDP route of stifling democracy.”
Potential UDC/BPF clash
Meanwhile, insiders say that another challenge that Boko and the UDC face is of a possible clash over constituencies with the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). The BPF is already in the process of joining the UDC ahead of the 2024 general elections but it remains to be seen how allocation of constituencies in the Central District will go.
Some BPF members strongly believe that their party stands the best chance of winning most of the in constituencies in the Central District out of all the contracting parties in the UDC. This is despite a new development in the BPF that its patron, former president Ian Khama, has opted to take a back seat from active participation in the party.