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BMD’s baptism of fire

Publishing Date : 15 August, 2017


The power struggle roiling the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) reached tipping point after party leadership allegedly engaged in a physical confrontation early this week.

BMD is the country’s youngest political formation and its teething problems can be traced back to the promulgation of its extensively liberalised constitution. Senior party leader who is also a retired Botswana Defence Force one-star Brigadier General, Iphemele Kgokgothwane allegedly scuffled and strong-armed Chairman Nehemiah Modubule Tuesday night. Sources allege that the scuffle took place around 22:15 after the adjournment of a top party leadership meeting.

Modubule who is BMD Chairman told this publication that after a late night National Working Committee (NWC) meeting he was roughed up by Kgokgothwane who sought to suck him into an ‘ambush’ of about 10 men. He explained to this publication that as he was making his way out he saw a group of around ten men. He continued to state that among them, he instantly recognised Kgokgothwane. He also states it is then that Kgokgothwane instantaneously grabbed him by the hand and proceeded to twist his arm, trying to draw him into the middle of the group of men.

He further alleged that in the process Kgokgothwane used threatening language apparently stating that Modubule was destroying their party. “He stated that they will kill me because I am destroying their party,” Modubule related. Modubule further wondered how Kgokgothwane and his men ended up at the meeting because they were not part NWC rendezvous. He revealed that the situation was diffused after Ndaba Gaolathe broke off the assault and walked him to his vehicle.

“Because they are not part of the executive you can ask yourself where we they coming from. How did they know we were meeting?” Asked why he thinks Kgokgothwane would want to bring him harm, Modubule feigned ignorance. He also told this publication that he reported the case at Central Police Station where he left at 12 midnight and that he also went to seek medical attention in the company of party Secretary General Gilbert Mangole.

The NWC meeting was to discuss whether the BMD Youth League Congress could be held today. Modubule told WeekendPost that the meeting resolved that it would be impossible to hold the congress because the registration of delegates has not been fully done. He also said that the National Executive Committee is scheduled to meet to deliberate on the matter further. The fracas is directly linked to a searing marathon contest for the control of the party. Currently BMD is wrought by bipolar centers of power. On the one end is Modubule and party Secretary General Gilbert Mangole. On the other is Gaolathe, his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, Phenyo Butale among others.  

Kgokgothwane is believed to be allied to the latter faction. The Modubule-Mangole axis is angling to hold tight onto power while the Gaolathe-Mmolotsi team is seeking to oust them. Retired Major General Pius Mokgware and Gaborone Central Member of Parliament Phenyo Butale are allegedly lined up to challenge the duo at the July congress. However, the Modubule-Mangole axis is reported to be far ahead in terms of establishing their loyalist base across the length and breadth of the country.

It is not known whether Advocate Sydney Pilane who the Modubule-Mangole axis is reportedly loyal to will dare for the presidency. When asked for his part Kgokgothwane cynically denied ever fighting Modubule. He stated that he does not sit in the executive of the party or National Working Committee. He further noted that he cannot scuffle with a man the size of Modubule. I don’t know anything about that. I don’t sit in the Central Committee. How can I scuffle Modubule. Have you seen Modubule? His backside and belly? Asked Kgokgothwane. Asked if indeed he threatened to kill Modubule, Kgokgothwane responded: “if I kill you I can’t tell you. I am a professional. I don’t do such things (threat to kill).

He further denied that he was contacted by the police after being reported. The founding commander of BDF Special Forces also denied ever accusing Modubule of ruining BMD, responding thus: “go tell him that he is a liar. Those are his issues.” BMD’s constitution was framed to avoid centralising executive power on the presidential post. It was promulgated in hindsight of the problems that beset its founders when they were suspended from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).



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