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Political analysts Dr Adam Mfundisi and Mokaloba Mokaloba have warned that the days of the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) are numbered, if the coalition cannot promptly resolve the current divisions.
According to the duo, who are Political Science lecturers at the University of Botswana (UB), there are a number of factors leading to the UDC instability. UDC cracks continue to widen as the conflict between contracting partners Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BNF) deepens by the day without a solution in sight that could heal the coalition.
Dr Mfundisi said the future of UDC looks bleak if the current trends go unchecked. So, he said this is the time for strategic leaders on both side of the divide to display political savvy. “Coalition politics is not a joke but a serious matter riddled with the difficulties hence he need for strategic leadership. Leaders must build and sustain trust in times of uncertainty and crisis. UDC is in crisis now than ever before. The Palapye debacle which led to the creation of the BCP will play itself again if the conflict is not resolved by leaders of the BCP and BNF,” said Mfundisi.
Furthermore, he said there is also a lacuna in elders and veterans from both Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress party (BCP). “The Deep State is probably playing a hand in fueling disunity within UDC to deflect people’s attention from gripping socio-economic and political problems facing the country and its people,” he added.
According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, the meaning of deep state is an alleged an alleged secret network of especially nonelected government officials and sometimes private entities (as in the financial services and defense industries) operating extra legally to influence, enact government policy.
Another political analyst Mokaloba said the bickering both in and outside the National Executive Committee (NEC) shows that the coalition is going through the tougher worrying challenges.
He also concur with Dr Mfundisi that BNF and BCP leadership should come out to save UDC. “It is clear that there is challenge within the UDC. Gobotswang revelations that BNF and BPP are always suppressing the voice and deliberations of the BCP show that there is lot of fighting at the UDC NEC. These are interesting times and tough times lie ahead for the UDC leadership,” he said.
Furthermore, Dr Mfundisi other opposition parties Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives(AP) are spoilers and may be fueling conflict to find foothold within UDC formation. “But both AP and BPF do not bring substantial numbers to the UDC or any other formation if it emerges. Some of the problems that led to the split of the BNF culminating in the formation of the BCP are emerging. The spat between the BCP and BNF leadership playing itself in the social media is making it difficult for mediation and reconciliation,” said the UB academic, Dr Mfundisi.
He noted that coalition formations require ethical and value-based leaders. Leaders must speak with candor and frankness when dealing with controversial issues that may divide the coalition. “Authentic leadership is required in times of crisis displaying honesty, concern and benevolence toward simmering conflict between the BCP and BNF that may tear the coalition apart,” he said.
He also said coalitions must be anchored on shared ideologies, vision, interests, needs and aspirations.
According to him, what we are witnessing is a possibility of having two opposition coalitions: AP – BCP and BNF, BPP and BPF, adding this will be an acceptable outcome in the body politics in Botswana.
He emphasized that BCP and BNF, it seems cannot work together harmoniously if utterances echoed by the leadership and the rank-and-file are anything to go by hence destabilized UDC. “Coalition politics, as I posited is not easy process to manage. It has trials and tribulations which require strategic leadership. It needs strong, calm, trustworthy, and transparent leadership,” he said.
BDP to benefit
Mokaloba said the divided opposition will be great advantage to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). “The opposition should unite and it has proven that no opposition party can go alone and do well in the elections. The internal fights in the UDC will boost BDP victory chances,” he added.
Mfundisi also said BDP may benefit, insignificantly, from the chaos in the opposition instability. “It has its own pathologies including factionalism. The BDP, like opposition parties, is suffering from lack of strategic political leadership. What is important toward 2024 elections is a political environment that promotes competitive politics based on issues rather than personalities,” he said. He also said successful coalitions have clear shared vision premised on equality, compromise, trust, negotiation, cooperation, transparency and all these harnessed by an effective communication.