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Is BMD’s expulsion from UDC viable?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

It is common knowledge that the seven-day ultimatum the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had given to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to show cause why it should not be expelled has lapsed without the BMD showing such cause, but it has not been expelled as threatened.

Rather, on the day the ultimatum lapsed, the UDC extended the ultimatum to 18th October 2018, a decision which has made many rebuke it, especially its president, Advocate Honourable Duma Boko, for indecision. This, they say, is the very indecisiveness which has brought the UDC to the calamitous status it is in today.

In my view, this extension kicking the can down the road, especially considering that since its suspension, the BMD has, through the media and at political rallies, stated that it does not recognise its suspension since it is unlawful and without force and effect. Not only that. The BMD is also reported to have refused to honour a meeting called by the UDC on the last day of the ultimatum.

One would have expected the BMD to either comply by responding to the charges levied against it or approaching the courts for an order setting aside UDC’s decision, but it did neither. The BMD clearly decided to wait for the UDC to blink first, thereby exposing its vulnerability and the strategy seems to have worked since the UDC, perhaps because it is aware of the loopholes in its case, blinked first, something which has, no doubt, emboldened the BMD.

Judging by the way the BMD has been defiant in relation to its suspension as well as its refusal to meet the UDC, it is unlikely that it will comply with the deadline of 18th October 2018. Clearly, post 18th October 2018, the UDC, which has lost credibility because of the indecisive manner in which it has handled the BMD saga, is expected to expel the BMD. The question is: is it legally and politically viable for the UDC to expel the BMD? It is this question that this article grapples with.

First, legal viability. This question is cardinal considering that some, including the BMD leadership, have opined that the UDC Constitution of 2012 does not provide for the expulsion of a group member. Clause 24.2.1 of the 2012 UDC Constitution provides that “ the National Congress(NC) or the National Executive Committee (NEC) may suspend or expel a group member for (i) acting against the interests of the Umbrella, (ii) Failing to attend more than two consecutive meetings of the NEC without an apology acceptable to the NEC or (iii) failing to pay its group membership fees.  

Clause 24.2.2 provides that “no such suspension or expulsion shall have effect unless the NEC (i) has notified the affiliate in writing of the reasons for the suspension or expulsion and (ii) has granted the affiliate permission to present its case to the NEC. It is clear in terms of clause 24.2.1 that, as a group member, the BMD can be suspended, as it has been, or expelled, as it is likely to be, by either the NC or the NEC. Therefore, the notion that the UDC Constitution does not provide for the suspension or expulsion of a group member has no basis.

For a group member’s suspension or expulsion to be lawful, at least from a procedural point of view, the group member has to have been notified of the reasons for the suspension or expulsion and been granted the permission to present its case to the NEC. It is common cause that the BMD has been notified of the reasons for its suspension, since it has been charged with bringing the UDC into disrepute by “failing to cooperate with the Botswana National Front (BNF) to resolve the deadlock over Moshupa/Manyana and Mmopane/Lentsweletau constituencies.

It has also been charged with failure to accept that its split has weakened its capacity to deliver in the constituencies allocated to it, arousing confusion and anxiety about membership status of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the UDC, and negative resentment countrywide of the its leader, Advocate Sydney Pilane, as well as uncontrollable outbursts in the media, and his divisive tendencies.

Clearly, the BMD cannot be heard to say it has not been given the reasons of its suspension. That the reasons are invalid, as it has asserted, is a different issue. It is an issue which it should have addressed by making submissions to the UDC’s NEC as it has been requested to do, but failed and/or neglected and/or refused to do by the given deadline.

It is an issue which the BMD has been given a further opportunity to address by the 18th October 2018 though it seems unlikely that it will comply with the extension of the ultimatum. The BMD leadership is on record that it does not recognise the decision to suspend it since such decision was taken in its absence and without it been accorded a hearing despite the fact that the decision is adverse to it.

The BMD has also demanded to be furnished with the minutes or record of the proceedings of the meeting as well as an attendance register of those who participated in the meeting. In response, the UDC has argued that it would have been procedurally flawed for the BMD to participate in the meeting since the sole purpose for the meeting concerned it and it had to recuse itself from the meeting, claiming that that had in fact been agreed to at a prior meeting which the BMD attended.

 
The UDC has further stated that the meeting at which the decision to suspend the BMD was taken was constitutional since it had been convened in terms of the Constitution, and the meeting had the requisite quorum of at least half of the group members in good standing and at least half of the delegates who are members of the group members in terms of clauses 13.4.1.1 and 13.4.1.2 respectively.

Should the UDC expel the BMD and the latter challenge the expulsion at court, at least five question will arise. The first question would be whether the meeting at which the decision to suspend the BMD was taken was constitutional. The second question would be whether BMD was validly notified of the reasons for its suspension. The third question would be whether BMD was granted the permission to present its case to the NEC.

With respect to the second and third questions a fourth question would be when should the BMD have been notified of the reasons for its suspension and granted the permission to present its case to the NEC? Should it have been prior to the suspension or after the suspension? The fourth question gives rise to the fifth question, namely: in what manner should the BMD have been allowed to present its case to the NEC? Should it have been in writing or oral?

Without full knowledge of the facts surrounding the UDC/BMD saga nobody can know for certain who between the UDC and BMD would emerge victorious should litigation ensue. What is certain is that while in law there will be a victor, in fact there can be no victor. There is no doubt that if a legal battle commences it will be protracted, something which can only result in some Opposition supporters defecting to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

One thing that is clear is that the relationship between the UDC and BMD leadership has broken down irretrievably such that no matter happens legally they cannot work together. This brings me to the question whether BMD’s expulsion from the UDC is viable. In my view, while it may be legally viable, it is not politically viable, especially considering the protracted legal battle that will ensue therefrom, and the fact that the next general elections are only one year away.

Have you thought of the possibility of the BMD winning the legal battle, but remains alone or perhaps with the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) in the UDC because the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) will certainly leave the UDC? Imagine if that happens five months before the general elections. Will the BNF/BCP coalition have enough time to regroup and mobilize its base for the elections? I believe not.

It is for this reason that I believe that instead of expelling the BMD and engaging in a protracted legal battle, the BNF and BCP should, as resolved at their conferences in July this year, leave the UDC and enter into a bilateral relationship or establish a new Umbrella which may in fact attract the Alliance for Progressives (AP). In any case, the legal existence of the UDC is uncertain considering the Registrar of Societies’ recent refusal to register its amended Constitution claiming, among other reasons, that he has no jurisdiction to register it or regulate the UDC.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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