The writing is on the wall, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will be a completely different animal come 2019 general elections, one of the contracting partners, Botswana Movement for Democracy will be ejected from formation.
The UDC held a closed meeting this week at which the National Executive Committee of the party summoned the troubled contracting partner to notice it of intention to suspend the whole party from the UDC. It was evident that the BMD was not happy with the discussions after its president Sidney Pilane walked out of the meeting and later was followed by his exco members. “We will share with you after seven days. What was discussed is confidential and do not trouble any of the NEC members with questions,” UDC President Duma Boko said after the meeting.
However, what came out of the meeting is a clear sign that the UDC is nearing breaking point. The BNF and the BCP have decided “to hell” with the law classes and now want to play politics. It has emerged from the five hours meeting that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF) wants Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to conform to their July congress resolutions on constituency redistribution.
On the other hand BMD will not bow to the “big brother mentality displayed by the contracting parties.” This publication has gathered that going to the meeting, the UDC (BNF & BCP) had already drafted a plan to share with BMD. WeekendPost is privy to the grand plan of BNF and BCP should they succeed in pushing Pilane and his BMD out of the coalition. The two main contracting partners are worried that if they do not act now, they may run out of time as 2019 general elections approach.
The two parties subsequent to their July gathering, want the BMD to bow to down to their ultimatum which demands that BMD surrender its constituencies save two held by incumbents, to the mother party for re-distribution. The two parties, it is said, want Billy Sekgororoane for Gaborone Central, while one of Dutch Leburu and Motsei Rapelana is expected to contest Gaborone North. Moeti Mohwasa has been asked to contest Gaborone Bonnigton South with Solly Reikeletseng expected to wrestle Francistown South. All these constituencies are allocated to BMD.
“In Lobatse they want Digga Kakoma. They say Modubule has played his part. The members of BNF and BCP want credible candidates not the likes of Bruce [Nkgakile] and Autlwetse [Thabo],” revealed the informant. It is further said the party is also in talks with two high profile candidates to contest in Gabane-Mmankgodi and Mogoditshane constituencies. “For now it is still confidential but the names will be revealed in a week or two,” said a source on Thursday.
Only Gilbert Mangole (Mochudi West) and Tlamelo Mmatli (Molepolole south) constituencies will not be touched going to the general elections next year according to the plan orchestrated by BNF and BCP. The Tuesday afternoon meeting was the second since the UDC congress in February this year. Previous attempts to convene a meeting failed because BMD saw no need for a meeting, more so that BCP, which according to the constitution is not a member continued to be party to, this publication has gathered.
Boko could not share anything with patient journalists who waited for the conclusion of the meeting as BMD representatives walked out. By the time other parties came out of the boardroom BMD president Sidney Pilane had long walked out. Pilane, usually cheerful and intimidating in character, cast a picture of a cow resigned to the fate of slaughterhouse. Minutes later, his comrades, Mangole, Modubule and Mmatli also walked out of the meeting. This was a sign that they are against the negotiations championed by BNF and BCP.
With nothing agreed at the meeting UDC (BNF &BCP) have given BMD up to Wednesday to have agreed to the suggestion, failure in which BMD constituencies will be seized by hook or crook. The two parties believe BMD following last year’s split leading to formation of Alliance for Progressives (AP), cannot amass figures enough to win 14 constituencies allocated to them. In their congress resolutions the two parties agreed to redistribute the constituencies given to the party.
The decision to take BMD candidates was taken last week at BNF and BCP bilateral talks where a highly placed source revealed that: “people are not willing to register to vote the entire party (UDC) because they have absolutely no confidence in Pilane and BMD therefore automatically dragging the UDC in it. So that was the message. Almost everybody was saying that (Pilane should go).”
“As per the constitution, UDC has three parties and we are concerned that BCP continues to be part of meetings whilst it is not recognised legally. Further, they are pulling strings and we will not allow that to happen because whatever agreed was agreed by members of the UDC in good standing,” a BMD source who was part of the meeting told this paper on Wednesday evening. The walking out of the BMD members is the factor that coerced the UDC president Boko to say official statement will be made next week Wednesday.
“They hope to meet the UDC between now and then to conclude everything since the discussions were left hanging,” said a source. On the other hand a BMD informant says they are aware albeit unofficial that they will have to meet other parties but there is nothing official on the table.But the BCP were frustrated at this meeting as Pilane insists that in terms of the currently registered constitution, BCP is not a member of the UDC – all contracting partners agree that he is correct. The problem as apportioned to Pilane is that he however does not accept the constitution that was negotiated between the BCP and UDC. Furthermore he also does not accept any of the congress resolutions on the constitution
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.