UDC’s ‘Suitable Candidates’ Stunt

  • Boko hardens BMD attitude
  • Is Boko ruining it for Saleshando?
  • Saleshando believes BMD must be consulted
  • Boko feels UDC must dictate who stands


In public, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership is trying to portray the opposition bloc as the best thing that’s ever happened in Botswana politics; in reality the umbrella is inside-out as the constituency allocation storm blows and divides passions again just like in 2014.
When it recently emerged that BCP President Dumelang Saleshando has ambition to stand in Maun West, it initially came off as a genuine attempt to find the man ironically banished out of Gaborone Central by the same UDC- a constituency for 2019. It was not until Duma Boko made the statement that BMD “does not have autonomy” over UDC constituencies that it all became clear that the strategy in which it is widely believed that Pilane’s “weak” party must cede constituencies to the more capable BCP or BNF itself- was in full effect. ‘‘We are not giving away any constituency and we are not giving away any ward. Bagaetsho tlhe re lapisiwa ke go nyadiwa,’’ Pilane shot back.
Boko’s provocative statement is in sharp contrast to Saleshando’s initial one which was conciliatory, where he expressed the need to handle the issue sensibly and with the interparty diplomacy it deserves within the UDC. Boko’s now matter-of-legal-fact tone simply disregards the many statements the BMD has put out insisting that the agreed principle of ‘incumbency’ means they never have to cede their constituencies to anyone.
Even as they insisted on this principle, the BMD were and are still measured and even sound like they are open to negotiations. However, Boko’s recent bad-cop strategy has left them with bruised egos and perhaps with no choice but to consider their own counter strategy against the UDC big brothers’ hailstorm coming their way. It is widely expected that Boko and Pilane, both lawyers, will dazzle in a spectacle where the country expects to hear the criteria for how the so called “suitable candidates” are vetted in the UDC or at least what Boko’s concept of “suitable candidate” means in the first place.
At this stage, conspiracy theories are flying about that the BMD is facing a ‘strategic exclusion’ strategy that saw the BCP left in the cold in 2014 after querying constituency allocations and just recently Ndaba Gaolatlhe’s Alliance for Progressives (AP) whose beef with Pilane led to them leaving the UDC in what was later summed up as their ‘intolerant attitude’ and ‘weak leadership’.
Boko’s views will however achieve one thing, they will expose the illustrious façade that followed the BMD’s Bobonong congress in which loyalties within the UDC went through major shifts which were initially played down or flatly denied- but were always leading to this exact moment. What remains unclear is who is playing who between the UDC and BMD.