The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) congress came and went. But there are three notable events about the congress.
First was the humiliating defeat of the erstwhile interim spokesperson, Sidney Pilane, at the hands of Gomolemo Motswaledi in the contest for the party’s presidency. ┬á
The second was the unopposed┬á election of all former interim NEC members, except Samson Moyo Guma, who previously held the position of national treasurer.
The third is the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere that prevailed at the congress, coupled with the principled stand of both Guma and Pilane that they are not prepared for co-option into the NEC although ready to serve in the party’s other ┬áless demanding capacities. ┬á
In the aftermath of the congress, Pilane has urged the new NEC to follow the spirit and letter of the party constitution of enhancing gender balance and ensuring representation that reflected the true character of the peoples of Botswana.
The position by the two gentlemen no doubt exalts the party’s maturity in the eyes of the public.
Pilane’s concession has shifted the focus to Guma who did not avail himself for election at the party’s inaugural congress. Guma’s non-availability has raised more questions than answers and this week he took time off his busy schedule in his Foot and Mouth stricken constituency to dispel fears that he could be considering retracing his steps back to the Botswana Democratic Party. ┬á
In an interview, Guma maintained that he did not offer himself for election at the just ended congress because he has “a lot on his hands”. “I have done enough for the party as of now. I don’t have enough time to concentrate on party politics because it requires a lot of time and dedication.
When we started we made a lot of sacrifices in terms of resources and time. It is not easy to run politics and businesses in addition to family issues at the same time. One of these must definitely suffer. I now want to focus on family, business and the constituency,” said Guma.
Asked whether his actions did not indicate the likelihood of quitting politics or a vote of no confidence on the BMD project, Guma replied that he will execute his political mandate until the end of the term in 2014.
“I will review the situation towards the end of the term on whether I want to continue or not. For now I am an MP until 2014,” said Guma, adding that he had always wanted to serve two terms.
With regard to whether his departure would not be premature given that BMD is still in its infancy and, by extension, needed commitment from its founding members, he said that BMD is an organisation and not an individual.
“Our emphasis should be on building the organization and not persons. In the process you can build strong personalities. Strong persons come from strong organizations but we must guard against personality cults,” said the exuberant legislator.
He explained that when he joined politics, his vision was clear and he knew how long he wanted to be in it.
“The political landscape has since changed from the time I joined politics. But that doesn’t mean that I would want to participate forever. It’s like a relay. You have to pass the baton. Mind you, I don’t hold the monopoly of wisdom. We have set up the party. The leadership has been elected. There are different committees within the party. I don’t want to occupy a position to which I will not give my full attention ,” said Guma.
He added that he can still do more for the BMD without holding any position in the executive, maintaining that the party has got able leadership and that the leader (Motswaledi) has access to all members of the party.
“I will not accept to be co-opted. But I will definitely accept certain tasks which I can do if time allows. I don’t want to do half-baked jobs and that is why I would not accept to be co-opted. Mind you, I have a constituency to serve. The constituency is not a party as it cuts across the political divide. They want me to attend to their issues and I must do so wholeheartedly,” said Guma.
Responding to allegations that he wanted to retrace his steps back to the BDP, he said there was somebody for reasons known to himself who wanted to be malicious while others were just being mischievous.
“I am here as an MP for Tati East. I was expelled from the BDP. After we were kicked out we built our own house in the BMD. What do you want me to do with my house? I will not go back to the BDP. I do not enjoy politics. I leave it at some point. My joining politics was a sacrifice. I don’t like to jostle for positions. It was painful to see myself expelled. But I had to leave and move on,” said Guma.
He maintained that he has relatives in both the BDP and the BMD and is happy that he has put so much effort in building the BMD following his expulsion from the BDP. Guma quickly points out that the formation of the BMD has changed the country’s political landscape, explaining that people are now opening up and the debate on opposition cooperation has heightened.
What pleases the legislator is that the educated are finding a home in the BMD and that before the formation of his party, “the society was boiling from within and afraid of speaking out freely. The situation has now changed and people are speaking out and asserting their rights”.
On opposition cooperation, he says the cooperating parties should shift their focus from ousting the BDP and instead pool their talents
and policies together in order to make opposition cooperation a viable project.
“We must look at the challenges facing the country and not the BDP. The future of tomorrow is in the bulk of the opposition. This is what we should be putting on the table of every Motswana. I talk of cooperation in terms of thinking processes. The end result of cooperation will have to be a merger. Mind you, this is my opinion and not the BMD’s. That must be the ultimate objective,” said Guma, emphasizing that beyond cooperation should be a merger.