Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Advocate Duma Boko’s decision to become the face of the coalition 2019 campaign seems to be raising eyebrows among members as they feel there is too much personalisation of the coalition by the leader.
Ever since the UDC leader started off his ten-day countrywide campaigns there has been controversy surrounding his campaign style where some within the party feel he wants everything to be about him as the party president.
He has even been accused of leaving behind his running mate Dumelang Saleshando for this year’s general elections, or even the UDC National Executive Committee (NEC). In hushed tones, some complain about his application to patent the UDC branding to his name; the use of aircrafts branded and personalized to his name; as well as the recent claims that he wants the coalition to take advantage of former President Dr Ian Khama for political mileage in ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) stronghold constituencies.
SOME UDC TOP MEN SOUGHT THE ELDERS’INTERVENTION
Those who have been timid to openly show their discomfort with how Boko wants to run things, including prominent figures within the coalition, are said to have secretly enlisted the intervention of the elders associated with the UDC contracting partners. It is for this reason that recently a number of these elders, including Michael Dingake of the BCP and the BNF Veterans structure were seen to openly warn against tainting the opposition coalition culture.
This has since divided the UDC as some are happy and have no issue with the way Boko goes about the campaign business, while others believe it could be suicidal. Advocate Boko has since indicated that they do not hate Dr Khama but were, and are still against the BDP-government system.
Regarding his running mate Advocate Boko who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, has pointed out that Saleshando is busy with the coalition manifesto and would soon be visible. He explained that Saleshando would soon have his own set of wings if the need arises. The UDC will launch its manifesto this week in Maun. There have been unconfirmed claims that Dr Khama might grace the event. There are however fears among contracting partners that his attendance might cloud the focus of the event.
UDC members believe the use of Dr Khama to wrestle power especially by unseating BDP in its strongholds might raise the question of credibility or strength by the UDC in such areas. Sources believe that acceptable alignment to the UDC by Batswana might be questionable when the former BDP President is used. However, it seems with determination and hunger to unseat the ruling party Advocate Boko is determined to fight with anything at his disposal.
The BDP is putting Dr Khama at arms-length and last week he sought guidance from his subjects during a meeting in Serowe on what he should do with his political life. This development has since annoyed UDC contracting member- Botswana National Front (BNF) Veterans Association. The veterans whom last year called for the BNF to ditch the UDC have expressed disappointment that there could be secret funding from Dr Khama.
They are calling for the members of the UDC to condemn and oppose such funding. The veterans have since issued a letter regarding this development. They argue that the funding and endorsement of UDC candidates for 2019 have not been sanctioned by the NEC but are personally the brainchild of the UDC President.
THE BNF VETERANS NOT BACKING DOWN
This week BNF Veterans Chairman Patrick Kgoadi told The Midweek Sun that they stand by their letter and press statement regarding the influence of external forces in the UDC. This is not the first time that the BNF veterans have expressed their unhappiness at the way their leader is dealing with issues of funding of both the BNF and the UDC.
Last year the veterans raised alarm when Advocate Boko took it upon himself to transport delegates to the BNF Conference in Rakops from the 57 constituencies and to take care of other logistics. The veterans expressed concern that the funds were not routed through rightful BNF channels. This week Kgoadi said despite what the UDC leader has been saying in trying to clear the mist they believe they have to meet to further clarify things for the benefit of ‘everyone.’
He said what they are doing should not be seen as an attack on the leadership but doing what principle dictates as per the culture of the BNF. “BNF is the backbone of the coalition and we should be seen to be doing things right. As the BNF we have for many years opposed external funding especially the one that is not routed through rightful party structures. “We do not know what the motive of such funding is because there is always a motive as we have experienced with Botswana Democratic Party!
“We will engage our central committee. It is not a question of whether we would be listened to or not but it is all about principle,” he revealed. Kgoadi stated that they are worried about media reports on what is happening to the coalition. “We also want to know if our leadership is still on course regarding the mandate they have in uniting the opposition or now things have changed and the opposition is being torn apart,” he said.
The UDC campaign is being led by a South Africa Political Specialist Firm called Status. The company is doing the Public Relations, Branding and Marketing for the UDC by packaging messages to suit targeted audiences. For many this campaign has much focused on Advocate Boko and not much on the coalition project. Advocate Boko recently told UDC members to remain unshaken and put trust in him.
He revealed that after the Manifesto launch, people would understand the type of campaign he is unleashing on the BDP. He has since rubbished claims that the campaign is only about him saying the naysayers do not understand his approach and strategy.
IT IS REGRETTABLE – MOETI MOHWASA
BNF’s Secretary General and UDC Head of Communications Moeti Mohwasa is disappointed that things have turned up this way at the UDC. In his response he said:
“It is unfortunate that a structure within the BNF, which knows processes of the party would want to communicate issues through the press. We are not saying there shouldn’t be different views but it has to be done through proper channels.
The president is not personalising anything, which is why during the UDC NEC meeting of March 5 2019 Boko briefed them about the helicopters. It is regrettable that we find ourselves in this situation and it has since emerged that some of the veterans are not aware of the media statement. We expect the veterans to lead by example having been there before in some of the BNF structures.
On the issue of Khama, he is not a UDC member and remains a BDP member. Our stand is that anyone who wants to help us fight the BDP is welcome to do so. We have worked with other former BDP members; others were even in high positions within the BDP, but they left the party to join us and help us fight the BDP.
FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate
Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.
A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.
“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.
In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.
“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.
He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.
“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.
Wame – a little einstein in the making
Wame Petit Kangumbe, 12, is an Optometrist in the making.
Kangumbe envisions taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to the next level by inventing something scientific in the future.The standard 7 pupil at Ratsie Setlhako Primary School in Palapye impressed everyone during the BIUST 5th STEM Festival and Research and Innovation Symposium with her sharp answers during the fest.
The little Scientist believes that the entire country should embrace science and do more experiments, to find out more about our physical environment and shed dependency on foreign countries in terms of Science and Engineering.
Her secret to relating with different topics so well, is research and more research. “I like researching. We have Wi-Fi at home, and so I often use my mother’s phone to type different topics and interact with how everything is related. I always prepare for the next lesson through researching,” she said.
She said the poverty in Africa can only be eliminated through STEM. “If everyone could take interest in STEM, we would go further in terms of uplifting the status of our economies as African countries,” she said.
She urged her peers to believe in themselves and be serious about their education. “When you write down your notes in class, make an application of what you want out of them. Everyone’s life is in their own hands,” she advised.
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