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What’s the way forward for opposition parties?

UDC needs to urgently clean its house and listen to calls for transparency and democratic governance – Marobela

Opposition parties went into the fiercely contested Bophirima ward bye-elections divided. Although there is an Opposition Cooperation Forum, which was signed by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) in October 2020, the Forum was ignored as BCP fielded a candidate, Peter Mogapi, supported by AP, while the UDC – with BPF in their corner – fielded Mankie Sekete.

Eventually, UDC won with 335, followed by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with 245 and BCP trailed in third position with 238 votes.

The Voice Reporter, DANIEL CHIDA, engages political analysts and party representatives to share their views on the way forward.

Mokaloba Mokaloba – Political Analyst

Opposition parties need to go back to the drawing board. It’s still an open secret that only a united opposition can dethrone the BDP.

The Bophirima ward experience should show the BCP/AP that they still need to be under a united opposition banner.

The BNF and its leader should also make efforts to engage all other stakeholders in the running of the UDC to avoid a repetition of Bophirima and even the total collapse of the UDC.

Phenyo Butale – AP’s Secretary General

AP Secretary General: Phenyo Butale

A deadline for submission of position papers was set for end of April and we believe that if there is anything to be learnt from Bophirima ward, it is that the only answer to Batswana’s desperation for change is a coalition of equals anchored upon principles of fairness, mutual respect and the truth.

Lawrence Ookeditse – BPF spokesperson

What happened at Bophirima is a bit unfortunate and also a good lesson that all parties should get to learn so that it does not repeat.

The most important thing now is to go back to the drawing board and continue discussions towards 2024.

In so doing, one of the things that parties should continue doing is getting back those who had acted out of character to sign some sort of agreement that says in future we will solve issues or problems in a certain way such that bolting out becomes an act of last resort.

It must also be agreed that when a person has left, he has left and cannot come back.

The most important thing now is to go to the negotiations for 2024 general elections and in those talks there must be a serious clause speaking about obligations that no one will be allowed to ignore.

Justin Hunyepa – BNF Publicity Secretary

The opposition must engage in good faith and get down to the bottom of issues.

There were accusations and counter-accusations and, hopefully, the results of the Bophirima ward bye-elections will help all parties to reflect and make sound decisions.


A lot was said and done, which was very unhealthy for UDC. Some dragged the party in the mud and they will have to account for their conduct, as this is a best practice in any organisation.

A genuine and fair engagement is necessary. The BNF is still committed to opposition unity and no matter how stormy the seas have been, the BNF has never left the boat since it was built.

So, it will continue to engage in good faith and expect other parties to do the same as well. This is the people’s project.

Mpho Pheko – BCP Publicity Secretary

We are committed to opposition unity in general; however, we want to be part of a coalition that respects its own constitution, democracy and basic norms of governance.

The last BCP conference resolved to partner with opposition parties that speak our language on governance (the constitution, rule of law, transparency and accountability) and social democracy.


We remain committed to this resolution until and unless our upcoming conference resolves otherwise.

We encourage all the opposition parties to commit to the same ideals.

Motsumi Marobela – Academic and Labour Activist

The Bophirima council ward elections should be read in the context of the recent past by-elections, which UDC won 10 out of 13.

In sum, the outcomes of these elections reflect that Batswana are desperate for change; they have lost trust in President Masisi’s government.

Initially, his projection attracted Batswana to the BDP as they thought he would deliver on the promises.

But this has not materialised and now they have shifted towards the opposition.

Their dreams and aspirations are with UDC as a united opposition force and they see it as a vehicle for regime change.


Going forward, the opposition must seriously introspect, regroup and unite to prepare for assumption of state power.

After a thrashing rejection by the voters and failed attempt to embarrass the UDC, the BCP must swallow their pride and humbly come back to the party lest they lose some of their members, who are angry about their potential breakaway alliance with AP.

As a government in waiting, the UDC must be seen to be a professionally-run political entity.

They need to urgently clean their house and listen to calls for transparency and democratic governance.

The UDC project is sensitive, it needs stability and cohesion and so the tussle for UDC leadership should end with a compromise by the BCP endorsement of Boko as their Presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.

As a mass and people-driven organisation, it is imperative that they reach out to the unions with their pro workers’ agenda and consolidate their base by engaging them and the wider civic society.
They need them now more than ever.