Sunday, September 27, 2020

Without a decisive leadership, UDC future is bleak

Whilst parties wishing to have a major stake in the upcoming General Elections in October 2019 are busy sweet talking voters into choosing them as future government, the Umbrella for Democratic Change, my party, seems to be in no hurry to do so. Following what was dubbed as a breakthrough in negotiations leading to the admission of the BCP into the UDC, it held its inaugural constitutional congress at Ditshupo or Boipuso Hall Gaborone on the 23rd to 24th February 2018, inter alia, to debate and adopt the new constitution to reflect the changes since the entry into the UDC of the Botswana Congress Party. All seemed well as all four contracting parties ÔÇô BCP, BMD, BNF and BPP sent delegates from the four corners of the country for the exercise. The voter responded positively the new joint venture. Party leaders Dumelang Saleshando, Sydney Pilane, Duma Boko and Motlatsi Molapise attended the congress. Musi Maimane of the South African Democratic Alliance was the guest of honour.

During the process Hon Gilbert Mangole MP of the BMD chaired the commission which dealt with constituency and ward allocations whilst the BMD Deputy Secretary General was secretary of the constitutional commission where she read out recommendations and or resolutions in the plenary session. The Congress dispersed in the morning of the 24th. At all times during the day and night the BMD President was sitting at the top table and at no point did he or his party raise any issues and or misgivings about that process even when some utterances were made by some of his party members leading to the congress that it was a ‘meeting of friends’ rather than a congress. Nothing of the sort was heard during the congress.

To the surprise of few Mk Sidney Pilane went on Duma FM making it clear that his party the BMD and the BPP do not know any other constitution but the one he claims to have drafted himself in 2016 when he was just an ordinary member of the BMD and four or so other lawyers from the BCP and the old UDC during the negotiations. The constitutional stream was reporting to the main stream led by Cdes Dibeela and Dr. Gobotswang representing the UDC and the BCP respectively. The final arbiters on the whole negotiating process were the UDC President Cde Duma Boko MP and BCP President Dumelang Saleshando. It is therefore safe to say that the process would be deemed closed and or sealed with the signatures of both abiters and no other leader. Any other leader claiming to have been overlooked when the final draft was submitted would be a time waster. 

It shall be recalled that the negotiations were between the UDC on the one hand and the BCP on the other. At the time Rre Pilane’s role was that of a stream member with three or so other lawyers. He was not president of the BMD. Should his version be accepted all other stream members may do the same. Where would it take us? He now appears to be using his current position as a party president to cause a stir and do what he would have done if he were president of the BMD during negotiations. I think he is a real trouble maker.

During negotiations we were also told that the old udc nec comprising of the BMD BNF and BPP met and suspended the old udc constitution except the one clause – the transitional clause to admit the BCP. This is subject to confirmation by those involved. When adults of full legal minds in the likes of Duma Boko, Motlatsi Molapise and Ndaba Gaolatlhe the three chief executives of the parties making up the old UDC at the time agree to suspend a clause governing them in order to admit a third party, who else would go against such a move? If it is true then there is no constitution to talk about in so far as the parties are concerned. One cannot conclude some important task with others and then somersault later to suit his whims.

If he was president of the BMD during negotiations it is safe to conclude that we would have gotten nowhere. We have been hearing news from NEC that there is no progress. He, assisted by the BPP is reported to have been blocking all attempts to have the new constitution finalised thereby creating a permanent stalemate. His reasoning we are told is that the February 2018 constitutional resolutions to which he and his party had 117 delegates should and cannot be taken into the final document, yet he never objected during the process. Congress had resolved that the constitution must have been registered by May 2018 followed by leadership elections before the end of July 2018.

In my view, the constitution submitted by the UDC President Hon MP Duma Boko and Dumelang Saleshando to the Registrar of Societies for amendment was the final document concluding the 2016 negotiation talks between the old UDC and the BCP which, among other things, allocated constituencies to the four parties making up the UDC.

All these resolutions were made in his presence. I think he needs to be stopped before he maximizes damage on the udc as a whole. There is therefore an urgent need for cde President Duma Boko to decisively deal with matters raised by Mk Pilane before the political environment is polluted beyond redemption. Although the UDC appears to be well received as evidenced by successes in Moselewapula and Romokgwebana bye elections respectively voters’ patience should not be underestimated as if they lie dormant. They are watching whilst our main opponent the BDP’s leader is all over the country charming everyone his predecessor Khama bruised during his tenure as President of the Republic. We have no time to waste. UDC rank and file members including well wishers need decisive leadership as a matter of urgency. As for the BCP should the amended constitution not be registered as envisaged by congress, the future looks bleak.

*Morgan Moseki is a BCP member, Francistown East. He writes in his personal capacity

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.