Embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leader Sidney Pilane has vowed not to allow any mediator in the party impasse to allow them to hold a congress re-run following the recent disputed Bobonong one.
The umbrella of opposition parties in Botswana, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is expected to mediate between the two after receiving communication from both parties claiming to be the legitimate National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, with one led by Pilane and the other by Ndaba Gaolathe.
In his inaugural press briefing this week after the disputed congress, Pilane maintained that they will not allow for a re-run of the congress as they won fair and square in line with the constitution of the BMD. “Let me make it clear that we had a lawful congress at Matshekge CJSS in Bobonong. It has been called in terms of the constitution of the BMD by the National Executive Committee. All was done in accordance with our constitution and so, we will not agree to any suggestion by anybody to call another congress,” the BMD leader insisted to journalists earlier this week.
He however said they are prepared to compromise in terms of matters regarding which they have power to compromise that are outside the ambit of the movement constitution. He thus emphasized that: “what we cannot do is give anybody anything that we do not have the power to do. And what we cannot agree is to anything that we do not have the power to agree to it, and so even others we agree that they are thinking about us and might want to assist and it will be grateful, but they must understand that we are limited by the constitution of the BMD. We work within it, we stay within it, we live within it and we act in accordance with it at all times. It’s a matter we do not compromise.”
The Advocate asserted that they told Batswana that they would like to run this country and therefore should show to them that indeed they will run the country according to the law. The Constitution is never compromised, he stressed adding that Batswana need to know that when they elect them into government they will obey the law and run government affairs in terms of the law, and nobody should ask to compromise on the law to suit any party end.
In terms of suggestions that the UDC will intercede, Pilane said he does not recall UDC leader Duma Boko talking about two factions in the BMD. Instead, his recollection is that Boko pointed out that they have received two reports from two groups, both of whom claim to be BMD. And that he said they might call them. “The question now is; are we going to go there if the UDC calls? Yes, if the UDC calls we would go, to see what they would have called us for,” the highly decorated lawyer highlighted. He however assured the briefing that no one will call BMD without its authority or blessing.
“We run this movement by a constitution. We have a constitution which governs the affairs of the movement. No other constitution does. And no other individual does. So anybody that wants to mediate between us obviously we would be very grateful. We will go wherever we are called. We shall hear whatever we will be called for. We have a discussion according as we might be invited. And we will state our position,” the controversial politician warned. Pilane also reiterated that in terms of the calls for a re-run of the congress, even if they are given money to hold the congress they will not hold that congress as they have already held one. “We have too much work to do to rebuild our movement,” he asserted.
Pilane discusses his association with DIS Director Isaac Kgosi
It is the Advocate’s contention that indeed he has relations with Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director Isaac Kgosi and he has represented him as a lawyer, and never did so for the DISS. “I practice law. I represent people who require representation. I do not care about your political affiliation or where you work, it is a matter which I have never compromised and I will never compromise,” he said of Isaac kgosi when quizzed by a pack of journalists who wanted the predicament explained. The quandary has mainly pitted him against some BMD members who despise his re-admission into the party citing his connections/relations with the notorious DISS.
Pilane also maintained that it was true that he had represented Isaac Kgosi and other BDP members when he was still a BDP member and added that he is still representing some BDP members, despite now being with the opposition. He stated that he can still represent the leader of the Secret Service, Kgosi should he need his services as a lawyer. He continued: “I can also represent President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama if he also requires legal representation even though he has destroyed our country.”
Says Ndaba faction approached a Judge to utilize for forum shopping
The Pilane faction has made speculations that the Ndaba led faction has approached a certain judge to place their case for forum shopping. However, Pilane has refused to name the said Judge. He said that the Ndaba faction had notified them of their intention to declare the recent congress nullified and call for a re-run of the elections. “In terms of the said Judge, we know the name of the Judge in question but we won’t reveal the name to you. But when they do go to court if they do go court we will know whether they got the judge they want or have failed to do so. And they should get the Judge who we know they want, we will act accordingly at the time,” Pilane told the press.
Pilane attacks opposition MPs in parliament for poor performance
The BMD leader expressed concern over the lack of vibrancy by the current crop of opposition legislators as opposed to the past. “There was a time when the opposition parliament was strong and vibrant. It was speaking for the people, expressing the feelings of Batswana, articulating them vibrantly in which they had an impact on the audience, Batswana in general. We need to hear you more. Perhaps we do not hear this or assess this issue the same way. But we don’t hear you comrades. We hear you too little,” he said.
The contentious politician also observed that “we need to hear you and see you make a difference. We need to be inspired. I am afraid I am little inspired. We want you to be as vibrant as the opposition parliament of Kenneth Koma, Paul Rantao, Maitshwarelo Dabhuta, Robert Molefabangwe, and others. They made noise and were vibrant, but were just a small number. But today, you are so much a larger number. Please be vibrant, with your intelligence, articulate issues that affect Batswana.”
The Advocate also weighed options of running for parliament in 2019
When asked on whether he has ambitions of running for parliament in the coming 2019 General Elections Pilane was cagey in his carefully articulated but loaded response. “Do I intend to run for parliament in 2019? I do not know. It’s not a matter I have thought about. It’s not a matter I have considered. I do not think the time for that decision has come. When the time comes, I will make it. I will see whether there is a constituency which I am interested in running. I will see whether people want me to run. And so, I have not yet made that decision. O mpotse tsa ko ke go tswang. Tsa ko ke yang ga di itse (I only know of my past but I cannot say the same about the future.)”
Other BMD issues…
He also warned that those other members from the other faction who are not entitled to call meetings, or call meetings without anyone’s authority will be dealt with when that time comes. “Those expelled also should re-apply into the party; I believe they will be re-admitted. But of course anyone joining the BMD, expelled or otherwise, has to commit their self to obey the constitution, and being disciplined. It goes without saying. They should always follow BMD constitution, rules and regulations as well as respect the structures.”
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.