With the reality of Ian Khama as an unmitigated burden that cost the UDC a potential victory and the divisive former president running out of ideas for histrionics, Duma Boko’s isolation is looming larger than prospects of success at having the courts order a re-run of the elections. TEFO PHEAGE reports
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) finds itself between a rock and hard place regarding whether to challenge the outcome of the just-ended general elections or let bygones be bygones and move on, The Botswana Gazette can reveal.
Annulment and a re-run would cost the taxpayer an estimated P400 million.
The UDC, which amassed an unprecedented number of partners for these elections, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which has dared the UDC to proceed with an attempt to interdict inauguration of Mokgweetsi Masisi as president if the opposition coalition feels that strongly about it.
“We respect the UDC’s liberties to approach the courts for redress, should they feel they have reasonable grounds to do so,” the BDP said in a press statement yesterday. “Our country’s constitution and the Electoral Act are both clear on processes and procedure under such circumstances.”
The issue is likely to lead to cracks in the fragile UDC as some coalition members have already moved on after the election shock. The Botswana Congress Party, whose candidates did fairly well winning 11 parliamentary seats, would not want to be associated with a challenge that may jeopardise their hard-earned presence, albeit a small one, in the National Assembly.
The position of BCP president and UDC vice-president Dumelang Saleshando is that although there were irregularities in the elections, it is time to pick up the pieces and move on. Saleshando is the opposition’s biggest winner in these elections. He has regained his political relevance while the BCP has also performed reasonably well and stands to become the Leader of the Opposition. He could also assume leadership of the UDC, if the coalition survives the current turbulence.
This is not the case for Duma Boko whose credibility and popularity are at a record low for being roundly blamed for the routing of the UDC. He has lost his parliamentary seat while his BNF performed badly. This shame is shared by another key partner of the UDC, Ian Khama of Botswana Patriotic Front who has said Boko and the UDC must take the matter to court. Khama, who is clearly in it for himself in his duel with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, is uncertain of the future and that of his close allies who have fallen out of favour with the current regime.
Curiously, the UDC does not seem to have anything at the moment to substantiate their claims of rigging. Its Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa, says investigations are still ongoing. Party lawyer Dick Bayford told this publication yesterday that “nothing concrete so far has been identified”. Commentators say the utterances by Boko and Khama are but ploys to save face.
The party has previously complained of involvement of the Directorate of Intelligence Service in the electoral process. Should the UDC forge ahead with the challenge, the protest will be a historic development for the country known internationally as Africa’s miracle because of its peace and stability. And should the courts agree with the UDC, a re-run will further heighten the costs of this year’s elections which has cost the tax payer a whopping P400 million.