UDC: A great dream lost in translation

The 2011 Public service strike remains ingrained in the minds of many. It’s effect on the political landscape was, at the moment, seismic. The power of the labour movement was laid to bare, sending the ruling party scampering as it faced the biggest threat to its hegemony in decades. There was a swagger about the opposition parties, hope swelled through the political air with lavender like sweetness. The leaders of the opposition made an unprecedented call for the opposition parties to unite and it was heeded.

In the build up to the 2014 elections, the Umbrella for Democratic Change was birthed. A coalition of the country’s opposition parties with the backing of the entire public service trade union movement, embittered trade union movement, roared. Of course not everyone jumped into the bandwagon, the BCP chose to go at it alone. The decision was met with anger. without the BCP the promise of government change look ever more distant notwithstanding the shift that reverberated across the country. The promise of the 2011 strike was short lived, anticlimactic if you will.

The problem with the UDC was never the BCP is it seemed then and as it seems now. The problem with the UDC has always been structural. Let me try to put this into context. Firstly, the parties to the UDC coalition have always treated the Coalition as a means to an end rather than being the end in itself. The goal has always been to be in government. Personally, I doubt much thought has been given to the sustainability of the coalition beyond electoral victory. If any thought was made, it was at best in passing.

Secondly, the existence of multiple centers of power has been the Achilles heel of the UDC. The discord that has been at the epicentre of the UDC drama is a point in case. While the UDC is said to be the Umbrella body, it is the Individual member parties that wield more power. The Saleshando-Boko fight is essentially about who should have power over member party members. Should it be the coalition or the member parties? The answer is much more complex. A simplistic solution would be to remove the multiple centers of power and create only one. At the moment there is no difference between the AU and UDC in the sense that the viability and sustainability of each depends on the magnanimity of the members. In the event one feels slighted, all hell breaks loose. Until this deficiency is cured, the UDC is all but a dream, a terrible dream.

The third and most damning vulnerability of the UDC is the lack of internal democracy. In the 10 years since its founding, the UDC has been run by an interim committee. How permanent has the interim committee been. That’s an abomination. The excuse for the status quo is rather pathetic to say the least. The excuse as the UDC apologists like to put it is that the focus has been on the elections and rebuilding the coalition. My question is simply this “why hasn’t elections been held immediately preceding national elections or why hasn’t efforts to lure other parties into the fold been expedited to allow them to have meaningful participation in the election of the substantive leadership.

For those in the UDC i say, there is a huge need for reform and a reset. The agenda should transcend beyond the means to an end but to make the UDC the end in itself for sustainability. Further to that, the cult personality leadership model that is the source of conflict within the UDC ought to be done away with. One wonders if the UDC is about the people or about certain personalities, their cronies and their insatiable appetite for power.

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