Divisions over who between Boko and Saleshando should lead the UDC coalition have claimed their first prominent scalp in Ntsima
FRANCISTOWN: A toxic environment and accusations of espionage levelled against the Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) 2019 candidate for Francistown South in the last general elections, Tiroeaone Ntsima, have forced him to resign from the party, The Botswana Gazette has learnt.
The Francistown Region of the BCP has confirmed this. Upon being contacted, its Chairman Elias Mbonini responded: “When I asked him about his decision he said he could no longer take the accusations being levelled against him. He said BCP members are accusing him of being Boko’s spy.”
Ntsima resigned from UDC partner BCP, and by extension from the opposition coalition. This happens amid reports that Ntsima has been recruited by the BDP with an eye on casting him as its candidate in the next general elections in 2024 that the man has dismissed. However, he admits once being approached by the BDP but says it is not the reason he dumped the party that he liked the most.
Ntsima told this publication this week that he resigned from the BCP because of a toxic environment among UDC partners that he alleges has sparked divisions within the coalition UDC over who should be its president between the Botswana National Front (BNF) Duma Boko and the president of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando.
Boko is the incumbent president of the UDC but has been mired in controversy after the coalition’s shambolic performance in the last general elections in 2019. “A disagreement between members over who should lead the UDC has affected some individuals within the party,” Ntsima said in an interview. “Whenever a debate surfaces, this matter is also ignited.”
He insists that he resigned because whenever he tried to restore calm, he would be accused of taking sides in the issue of leadership.
According to Ntsima, differences over who should lead the UDC between Boko and Saleshando have filtered down to individual party members and are causing havoc. He said the animosity took a nasty personal turn recently when he was accused of being Boko’s spy and removed from all BCP WhatsApp groups after he attempted to restore calm. “A debate on why BCP members were not part of the Moono wa Baithuti (a student faction) lobby list recently ensued,” Ntsima said.
“When some BCP members advised the students to go solo, I was against this because I considered it to be against the logic of an opposition coalition. However, I was accused of being anti-BCP, labelled Boko’s spy and removed from all WhatApp groups. I felt like an outsider, hence my decision to resign. Mind you, this was not the first time. I was once removed and reinstated after I complained to the leadership.”
Ntsima represented the UDC in Francistown South when he was still a novice in politics and lost to the incumbent Wynter Mmolotsi in the 2019 general elections. Mmolotsi won with 3454 votes ahead of 2878 for Modiri Jojo Lucas of the BDP and Ntsima’s 2783 votes.
BNF and BCP members have been in a bitter exchange of words concerning leadership of the UDC. While some have called on Boko to resign and make way for Saleshando, others hold that the status quo should not be disturbed. These troubles can be traced to a statement released by the BCP Youth League after the 2019 general elections calling for Boko to resign. Since then, UDC alliance partners have been divided between Boko or Saleshando and engaged in bitter exchanges.