- Mohwasa says the congress will be in abeyance until the year of the next general elections
- Political scientist says it is a BNF ruse aimed at pushing the BNF out of the coalition
The much-anticipated UDC elective congress has been deferred until talks among opposition parties in the coalition and others have been concluded, the publicist of the UDC, Moeti Mohwasa, has said.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette this week, Mohwasa said a decision will be made regarding whether to hold the congress before or after the next general elections in 2024. “We have not decided on the deadline but the negotiating teams have been meeting almost every fortnight,” he added. “A lot of progress has been made.”
The UDC signed a Memorandum of Agreement for working together in forthcoming by-elections with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) on 4 November last year. While the agreement with the AP and the BPF is limited to by-elections, the veteran opposition spokesman said the wider opposition cooperation project is looking beyond by-elections. “We are looking at working now and in the future,” Mohwasa said.
Even so, a political science lecturer at the University of Botswana, Leonard Sesa, sees this as a delaying tactic of the Botswana National Front (BNF) that aims to use the time when congress is in abeyance to oust the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) from the UDC. “UDC and BNF’s (Duma) Boko made a lot of promises that he was going to be stepping down after the general elections (of 2019),” Sesa said.
“But now that the UDC did not win the elections and their marriage with the BCP has gone sour, if they hold the congress now the majority of votes will go to the BCP and Boko will have to move over. On the other hand, the BCP intends to wait a little longer until people have lost trust in the BNF leadership. Each one of the two major parties in the coalition is waiting for the other to make a move.”
The university don added that a lot of promises were made in the build-up to the last elections even though the AP was not a part of the UDC fold. “Politics is a game of numbers, as most political leaders are aware,” he noted. “They knew that even though the AP was newly formed, bringing it aboard would do them good going to the 2024 general elections. Suspension of the congress is good for introspection and bringing in all stakeholders, including grassroots members, to assess whether they can do it alone as a party or whether the coalition will work.”