BMD Vice President of the Gaolathe led faction, Wynter Mmolotsi says Advocate Sydney Pilane has emerged as the covert third force behind the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s turbulence in the run up to the National Congress in Bobonong.
Pilane is said to have made sure that the mediation meeting held at Bobonong Police Station to map a way forward following the violence that erupted at Matshekge Hill Secondary School bears no fruit, leaving Gaolathe’s faction with no option but to hold a parallel congress at Bobonong Junior Secondary School (JSS).
Addressing the media after delivering a closing speech at their congress at Bobonong JSS, Mmolotsi revealed that while they expected the infamous triple M(Module, Mangole and Mmatli) at the mediation meeting at the police station, instead arrived Sydney Pilane who vehemently pointed out that nothing can be done except for proceeding with the election. While at the meeting, Modubule remained at Matshekge busy with the preparations for the election, making the mediation efforts worthless.
Mmolotsi says it is then that they realised that Pilane was all along the undercover hand secretly twisting the arms of the infamous “triple m” to skew the axis in his favour. Mmolotsi says Pilane is a high profile learned Advocate who however deliberately misinterpreted the constitution to favour his intention to abduct the movement from the people.
Mmolotsi says theirs was a legitimate congress as it involved all the relevant structures and delegates as per the BMD constitution as opposed to the Matshekge congress where the delegates were “hired from Gaborone and divided into groups of twelve as delegates of different branches.” He posits that the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will recognise them as the legitimate committee as what the other faction did has all the hallmarks of criminality and therefore it will be irrational for Pilane’s led committee to be legitimised. He also pointed out that Pilane cannot possibly lead the BMD as his membership is still contentious, and therefore not a member of the BMD in good standing. Admittedly, Pilane’s membership is one of the items that will make the agenda of the committee when it starts executing its duties.
He says their aim is to open a new office at an affluent area where the vast majority of the BMD can easily have to access to. He further says their immediate action plan is to put into place functional structures of the BMD to ensure the smooth running of the movement in preparation for the 2019 General Election under the UDC. The emphasised the need for expediting the appointment of Disciplinary Committee as they foresee a lot of indiscipline following the congress. He says the Pilane faction members are still members of the BMD as they are still card carrying members of the movement.
Pilane on the other hand has claimed legitimacy, pointing out that the national congress of the BMD is organised under the auspices of the National Executive committee (NEC). He emphasised that the congress was not an opportunity for the suspended members to launch an appeal or negotiate terms of inclusion. Like Mmolotsi, Pilane accused Gaolathe’s faction to have hired delegates in order to stage a separate congress, something that he described as power hungry tactics.
He stated that the mediation meeting with the police did not bear any fruit as the Gaolatlhe faction demanded the appointment of a new electoral board that would verify the voters roll yet the congress is called by the NEC which deals with all the preparations including verifying the voter’s roll. Pilane says that they are open for reconciliation but they are tired of begging Gaolathe’s faction to come to the table for reconciliation. He says the reports that vilifies his candidature for the BMD presidency are ill-advised as the BMD presidency does not belong to any particular individual but open to all members of the movement who express interest in the position.
BMD’s Liberal Constitution
Pilane who is reported to be the architect of the BMD liberal constitution told his followers at Matshekge that when they crafted the constitution, they were wary of centralising executive powers on the president as in the constitution of their former political home, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). He says theirs was carefully fashioned to avoid the fate that befell them at the hands of President Khama at BDP. In hindsight, Pilane says they had to make sure that the president is not too powerful as they knew that they might encounter a similar problem if the presidency falls on the wrong hands. In BMD, Pilane says the more powers are entrusted on the Chairperson and the structures of the party but not the president.
The triple m faction led by Nehemiah Modubule, Gilbert Mangole and Dr Tlamelo Mmatli elected Advocate Sydney Pilane as President with Dr Mmatli as the Vice President. Modubule and Mangole retained the position of Chairman and Secretary General respectively. Tseleng Botlhole deputises Mangole as Deputy Secretary General. Percy Bakwena was elected Treasurer General deputised by Simon Zingu while Freddy Ramodise and Christine Ramakgobo were elected National Organising Secretary and National Policy Director respectively. Nineteen (19) additional members were also elected. All positions were unopposed. Pilane has also requested the members to go nominate five more additional members who will be women.
When voting commenced, due diligence was not conducted to ensure that the delegates in the hall met a quorum. Pilane said there was no doubt the people on the hall formed a quorum, explaining that the quorum is only confirmed at the beginning of the congress and not when the voting commences.
The Gaolatlhe faction held their separate congress at Bobonong JSS where all suspensions were reversed to allow the expelled leaders to contest for positions in the NEC. The faction also rescind the decision to derecognise the BMD Youth League which the Modublue/Mangole faction had described as an unlawful gathering. It was moved that the election continue despite the absence of the NEC’s chairman and the secretariat. The new electoral board was endorsed with Dr Margaret Nasha being the election officer.
Ndaba Gaolatlhe retained the presidency together with Wynter Mmolotsi as Vice President. Major General Pius Mokgware was elected party chairman while Dr Phenyo Butale bagged the position of Secretary General assisted by Moalosi Sebati as deputy secretary general. The position Treasurer went to Rassie Oarabile Tshenyego with Vasco Tathego as Deputy Treasurer while Kabelo Mahupe and Fedric Kololo were elected policy director and national organiser respectively.
The committee has 15 additional members and additional five women that include Dr Margaret Nasha. These women, Mmolotsi referred to as national appointees. Unlike at Matshekge, Gaolathe’s faction confirmed the numbers of delegates from all relevant structures in the voters roll prior to voting. It had 40 branches with total number of delegates of 415 which included the four members of parliament and 30 councillors.
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.