The opposition alliance Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has launched its historic manifesto in Maun, the gateway to Okavango Delta. Thousands of faithful supporters were in jubilation moods as they came to witness UDC made history for being the first party to launch its manifesto outside the capital, Gaborone.
In their manifesto, the UDC signature promises to Batswana such as 100 000 Jobs in 12 months, A Living Wage of P3000, Old Age Pension of P1500, FREE Sanitary Pads for Students, Tablets for All Learners, Tertiary Education Student Allowance of P2500 and the Reopening BCL Mine.
However, behind the message which was clear to many Batswana, political pundits observed the launch has brought unity and stability between the two parties, Botswana Congress Party and Botswana National Front (BNF) which are partners in the Umbrella project as they have been hostile to each other.
Some says the cooperation in the North West region has been in doubts as both two parties BNF and BCP has been holding their events separately while claims to be part of the UDC.
A Botswana National Front, councillor for Bojanala ward in the Maun West constituency, Luke Motlaleselelo pointed out that the launch has brought unity among the parties as there has been doubts in the Umbrella project. “We have seen both parties working together during the build up to the launch of manifesto and during the launch and this shows that the manifesto had an impact in changing the mindset of our people,” Motlaleselelo observe
He also stated that they are some members who still don’t believe that BCP is still part of UDC and some even prefers to wear BCP regalia instead of UDC. He added that in some instances some council candidate went further to print the regalia for either BNF or BCP instead of UDC but now believe that the launch has changed that conviction as they have become one thing.
During 2014, general elections the BCP was not part of UDC as they competed against the UDC and ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and it comes the second from the BDP in the region beating the combined UDC. BCP has 17 councillors in the North West District Council while BNF has only three. The BMD which was part of UDC in 2014 did have a council representative as it had only parliamentary representative, Kgosi Tawana Moremi.
A BCP council candidate for Gxhabara ward in the Maun East constituency, Vepaune Moreti also concurred with Motlaleselelo that the launch in Maun has brought unity among the two parties which are partners in the Umbrella project especially in the Ngamiland region. “We have seen all our members’ unity wearing our royal blue and this shows that now they understand the brand better than before,” he said
Moreti also stated that some wards in the Maun East constituency had been dogged by controversy for some months as the BCP and BNF had each fielded a council candidate in the same ward using the UDC banner. He also stated that following the UDC launch both parties had reached a consensus and allocated a ward to BCP for the benefit of the project.
Motlaleselelo also stated that it is now up to leaders of the party to educate the members of the public that they are going into the elections and set aside the misconceptions that are fuelled by the BDP members as they want to discredit the UDC project.
The Coming of Saleshando to North West region
For his part, UDC Maun East parliamentary candidate, Goretetsi Kekgonegile said that the UDC launch to Maun is a deliberate move to bring the umbrella project to the people as it has been concentrated in the southern side of the country. He also stated that the coming of Saleshando to contest as parliamentary candidate to Maun West constituency has been a blessing to the North West region. He added that since the coming of Saleshando there have been a lot of activities coming to Maun and the UDC president Duma Boko has been frequently visiting the region. “This had a lot of impact as it has changed the mindset of our people on the umbrella project”, he said
“Saleshando is quality politician and he coming to the region is a blessing and he has been touring the rural areas in the district preaching the UDC message to the electorates,” he said adding that the launch was in the North West region which is one of the poorest in the country after Kgalagadi but rich in natural resources. Kekgonegile said that this shows that the UDC government is committed to improve the lives of the people in the district. He says that tourism industry is the district mainstay and the country largest source of revenue after the diamond.
The Maun East parliamentary hopeful asserted that the UDC government will revive the tourism industry and by coming up with policies that will empower Batswana to benefit from the tourism industry. He says currently most of foreigners are the ones that reach the benefits of the rich industry while Batswana only work cheap labour in the industry. He also says that the district is rich in sectors such as Agriculture, the fishing sector in which the UDC will revive when they attain the government.
Meanwhile, The UDC Vice President and also the President of BCP is expected to face a stiff competition from BDP opponents Reaboka Mbulawa and Moalosi Sebati of Alliance for Progressive. However, the race is expected between Saleshando and Mbulawa. Both candidates have been busy campaigning and making inroads in the constituency.
Following the announcement of Maun West, MP Kgosi Tawana Moremi of leaving politics last year, the constituency remains vacant and it was a walkover for Mbulawa to win it since Kgosi is not contesting. But that has changed since Saleshando came to contest the constituency as it is now game on and electorates will be waiting for the results sitting on the edge of chairs come October to witness the mouthwatering event.