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BMD warns UDC on Motswaledi

Publishing Date : 12 September, 2016

Author : AUBREY LUTE

The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Working Committee has expressed displeasure at the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s handling of the Gomolemo Motswaledi commemoration event. Motswaledi was the BMD president and also Secretary General of the UDC.

At its meeting held on Wednesday this week, the BMD working committee composed of nine portfolio holders indicated that the UDC has taken over Motswaledi’s commemorations and has not bothered to engage the BMD, which was the late’s political home when he met his demise.

“We have only received an invitation letter to the Gomolemo Motswaledi commemorations. We have not been part of the process of planning for the commemorations. Yes it is true that the National Working Committee met and deliberated on a few topics which were dealt with expeditiously by the portfolio holders,” said the BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole who is also a Member of Parliament for Mochudi West.

According to Mangole the BMD will attend the Commemorations as per the invitation from the UDC but will immediately after the commemorations express their misgivings to the UDC leadership about the handling of the matter. “We cannot learn of this event about our former President through an invitation letter, we should have been involved more, consulted for that matter,” said Mangole.

The BMD secretary general stated that Motswaledi was secretary general of the UDC by virtue of being President of the BMD, “therefore MK Motswaledi was BMD first before being UDC. We feel that this is disrespect of the organisation that Motswaledi founded, and we will humbly request that in future these matters be dealt with according to processes that can agreed to be courteous,” he said.
Mangole said they do not even know who is organising the event and what the program of the commemoration entails. “We are aware that we shared Motswaledi with the UDC but it is important that his true political home is not overlooked when anything that has to do with his name is organised,” said Mangole.

The UDC is organising commemorations that will focus on celebrating and remembering Gomolemo Motswaledi’s life. Motswaledi was a political giant killed by a car accident after forming the BMD along with others from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), who were either expelled from party or defecting in support of the BMD founding principles. Motswaledi was suspended by BDP leader, President Lt Gen Ian Khama, a decision that scuppered his ambition of contesting the Gaborone Central Parliamentary seat under the ruling party and chose to join the splinter BMD.  

Asked about the composition of the Working Committee of the BMD, Mangole indicated that it is made up of nine members who are portfolio holders in the party. He said it must be noted that the President, Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy, Wynter Mmolotsi did not attend the working committee meeting held on Tuesday.

It is on record that Gaolathe and Mmolotsi are working parallel to some of the National Executive Committee members especially the secretary general and the party chairman, Nehemiah Modubule. The two camps are split on whether the party should call a special congress or not. A deliberation on the need for a Special Congress arose after the majority of the NEC voted to include Advocate Sydney Pilane in the list of BMD negotiators at the anticipated UDC talks which will include the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) this time around. Gaolathe, Mmolotsi and a small section of the NEC is against Pilane being granted full membership of the party and have called into question the ability of the current NEC to run the affairs of the party.

Meanwhile Mangole told this publication that the Working Committee on Tuesday also noted 19 letters received from various constituencies requesting for a Special Congress. He said the letters were only noted and the final decision rests with the National Executive Committee which will meet on the 13th of August 2016. Gaolathe’s camp is confident that it has secured enough numbers to push for a Special Congress which is expected to change the composition of the current NEC by way of voting for new leaders. On the other hand Mangole and Modubule’s camp is against the special congress and had asked for reconciliation as they argue that a special congress is not the solution to BMD problems.

Sharing his observations, a political commentator, Dr Wazha Morapedi said the Motswaledi Commemorations and the perceived side-lining of some in the BMD is a further demonstration of the magnitude of the conflict within the BMD. He said it is clear that Gaolathe and Mmolotsi could be privy to the planning and organisation of the Motswaledi Commemoration while the majority of the BMD NEC is in the dark.

Morapedi said it is important for BMD to solve their differences because they have a potential to derail the UDC agenda. He observed that the BMD should not make a big deal over the invitation and rather focus on broad policy issues that could craft their path as a political organisation. “The problem with our politics is that our politicians fight over small and sometimes irrelevant issues,” he said.  

Contacted for comment, the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa indicated that all the UDC partners have been invited to the Motswaledi Commemoration. Answering to the accusation from the BMD that they were not involved in the planning, Mohwasa indicated that the BMD was involved through its leader Gaolathe who is also the secretary general of the UDC. Mohwasa observed that Motswaledi was a leader within the UDC and all partners should embrace any activity planned in his remembrance. He further said they have not yet received any formal complaint from the BMD in regard to the commemorations. He was optimistic that they will have a successful event and indicated that a number of speakers have been lined up to celebrate the icon’s life.

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