WATCH | Ian Khama ridicules Botswana’s ruling party for losing by-election to opposition

  • Umbrella for Democratic Change, a coalition of three political parties in Botswana, won a by-election.
  • Former President Ian Khama, in a video on Facebook, ridiculed the ruling BDP for its defeat.
  • The victorious coalition, however, has problems of cooperation and governance.

Former Botswana President Ian Khama has ridiculed the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) after it lost a weekend by-election to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

A political analyst, Sello Motseta, said the result of the by-elections was an indicator that a coalition of opposition parties might have a chance of toppling the ruling BDP in the future.

The SVP won the Moselewapula constituency with 339 votes, slightly ahead of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with 334 votes.

The BDP finished last with a disappointing 110 votes.

The SVP is a three-party coalition of the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) and the BCP which was formed ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Motseta told News24: “However, it is clear that a united opposition would pose a formidable threat to the ruling BDP.”

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After the results were announced, former Botswana president and now opposition leader Ian Khama, who is believed to be in South Africa, celebrated the result in a video posted on his Facebook account.

In the video, a group of men can be seen dancing.

Ian Khama.

Getty Images Ron Sachs-Pool, Getty Images

Later, Khama is seen joining them and they take turns beating a red T-shirt, symbolizing the colors of the ruling BDP. He is seen wearing a yellow shirt, in the colors of the UDC, and a yellow cap with the words Make Botswana Great Again written on it.

Khama, now a member of the dissident Botswana Patriotic Front, congratulated the UDC on their victory.

“Congratulations to the UDC on your current victory in the by-election. It is clear that Botswana supports the people’s project.

“Your dedication, hard work and level of commitment gave us victory and hope for a better Botswana. Comrade Gift Ndanyala Tebo, this is an opportunity for you to do something good for Botswana; work hard, serve and bring about change. Ke Nako [Now’s the time].”

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While Khama made it a big deal, Motseta argued it was too early to conclude what the latest result meant for the political landscape.

“It is therefore a bit premature to say for sure what impact these elections will have on the overall situation in Botswana,” he said.

Coalition governments are a relatively new phenomenon in Africa. United opposition parties in countries like Zambia, Malawi, Benin and Kenya have had to form legislative coalitions to secure a parliamentary majority.

This is also possible in Botswana, but UDC, BPP and BCP are fractured.

“Although the opposition will be buoyed by this strong presence in the results of the council by-elections, it should be noted that the opposition UDC and BCP are currently embroiled in a heated dispute over the nature of the cooperation and governance issues in itself which is likely to derail prospects of a grand coalition before the next general election,” added Motseta.

Botswana will hold general elections in 2024.


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Joseph K. Bennett