Two renowned Advocates in Botswana, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate President Duma Boko and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leader Advocate Sidney Pilane are geared for a nasty showdown on the interpretation of the constitution of the UDC.
UDC is a coalition consisting of the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and BMD which is headed by Pilane. This week, the leadership of the UDC, comprising mainly of BNF and BCP executive members announced a decision to suspend from the coalition for 14 days pending final decision. The decision has certainly set in motion a legal battle regarding the rights and powers of the contracting partners and the party National Executive Committee (NEC).
While Pilane has been adamant that the UDC is not registered as a political party but just a conglomerate in accordance with its constitution Boko says otherwise – that it is a political party in its context. Pilane has stressed several times in the media and public that the “UDC is not a political party per se, but only an electoral arrangement.” Boko refuted Pilane this week at a press conference in Gaborone announcing the suspension of BMD that UDC is a political formation.
The UDC leader reminisced on the only judgement that justifies his position that was passed by the former Judge Peter Collins in the matter between BPP and Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM). He said Judge Collins made a finding in that case that BAM is not a political party but a coalition saying the reason is that, on the constitution and the way BAM was configured, to the extent that there was no individual membership, BAM only had provision for group membership.
“It could therefore not be a political party. That’s what he says. However the UDC does not fall in that boat because the UDC in its constitution has provision for individual membership,” Boko said. So, he added that on the criteria led by Judge Collins UDC is a political party and so if anybody wants to engage and debate on this matter anywhere, in the courts; both the formal and the courts of public opinion, its Cadit quaestio. In legal contexts, cadit quaestio is a latin used to indicate that an issue is no longer in question, often because a dispute (question) between two parties has either been settled, or dropped.
ON WHICH UDC CONSTITUTION REMAINS IN EFFECT
According to Boko, the constitution of the UDC was registered on the 23 August 2012 and it is that constitution that still applies until it is lawfully and properly amended and duly replaced. Pilane also believes that the current constitution is the one that was registered in 2012 which he adds that it recognises only the founding members in BNF, BMD and BPP and not the BCP.
ON WHETHER BCP A FULL MEMBER OF UDC
The BMD leader has also indicated that, as of now, BCP has not been formally admitted into the UDC, until a new constitution is submitted to the Register of Societies. Pilane and BPP leadership has presented one to the Registrar nullifying the one submitted by Boko and Saleshando recently. Pilane has stated several times that the BCP is not a member of the umbrella coalition as per the party constitution.
On his part Boko this week clarified that the said constitution of the UDC is that following the conclusions that took place after 2014 General elections the “BCP became a full member of UDC and that situation has not changed, it’s still remains extant.”
ON CONSTITUENCIES: FOR UDC OR INDIVIDUAL PARTIES?
Under the current arrangement of the umbrella, BNF was allocated 22 constituencies, BCP 17, BMD 14 with BPP having only 4. Pilane has emphasised that they have 14 constituencies and that nobody, not the UDC nor anyone else, is going to tell them how to deal with their constituencies, and nobody is going to vet their candidates because they have deliberated and agreed on that matter.
“UDC is not entitled to dictate to the constituent parties how and what they should do in respect of its own matters including constituencies. Let us be clear about this,” Pilane has told Boko previously. However this week Boko asserted that the constituencies belong to the UDC as a collective. Each political party that has been assigned a set of certain particular constituencies, he said has been given the responsibility on behalf of the collective and that the constitution of the collective, the one that they have, says all this parties are allowed ultimately ‘subject to regulation by the collective.’
Boko highlighted: “So it is not something that we plugged from the air but comes from the constitution of the UDC. Each party brings its candidates and they are subject to scrutiny and examination by the collective. BNF, BCP, BPP and BMD have always understood that at some point they will have to submit to an audit by the collective. UDC has a right to pronounce on candidates if they have evidence against them. Its quality assurance to make sure that UDC is represented by the best.”
BOKO FINALLY PRONOUNCES PILANE SUSPENSION
The UDC President has said they have received fierce feedback regarding the BMD leader Sidney Pilane, which is very negative and very uncomplimentary which has tend to affect the UDC leadership as a whole. He said that these things happen and when they respond, they do so because reality compels them to do so and not necessarily that anybody has done any wrong.
“And so when these issues were now reaching a fever peach, boiling on, we convened on the 15th of September to reflect as UDC leadership. And return we did, yesterday in which UDC NEC appreciating the seriousness of the issues and the urgency of dealing with them and also alive to the constitutional imperative that binds us to justice came to a final point where the UDC NEC took a decision to suspend the BMD.”
The BMD was as a result given the opportunity to respond to the issues within 14 days or not later that the 18th of October 2018. At that time the Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker said they would have made their representations to the NEC and that is when any final decisions will be taken. Meanwhile Pilane has recently told Boko and Saleshando that they have no powers to suspend or expel them or BMD from the UDC.
“The UDC is not competent to decide who may represent the BMD in the UDC NEC, nor is it empowered to suspend or expel the BMD from the UDC,” he said then. The contentious leader explained that the relationship inter se of the parties which are members of the UDC as a coalition is a contractual one, and the agreed UDC constitution does not give any contracting party or parties’ authority to suspend or expel another contracting party.
“Even if the UDC had such power, which it does not, it would be able to do so only after due process, which has not been extended. Such a process is not worth undertaking because it would be stillborn,” the BMD leader observed. Neither the BMD nor I have received any communication from anybody concerning any intended or actual suspension or expulsion, he said adding that “if we should, it would not be worth the paper it is written on.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.