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Boko, Pilane clash over UDC

Publishing Date : 22 January, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Sidney Pilane has challenged the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader, Duma Boko’s suggestion that the mother party has final say over the constituencies allocated to contracting parties.


Boko’s words on Thursday this week in a press conference implied that the troubled BMD could lose some of its constituencies if UDC perceives its candidates to be not strong enough. “The constituencies belong to the UDC and are allocated to the parties to manage and to choose the best candidates. Even after each party elects their preferred candidate, we will scrutinize the candidates and replace those we deem not fit enough by those we think can win it for us from any party under the UDC,” Boko said


In what is likely to ensue in a legal battle, Boko’s pronouncement rubbed the BMD leader the wrong way, prompting him to warn that his party will not tolerate being belittled by any of the contracting partners. “We own 14 constituencies within the UDC arrangement. Nobody, not the UDC nor anyone else, is going to tell us how to deal with our constituencies, and nobody is going to vet our candidates ka seo ga re ise re se bue ra se dumalana (because we have deliberated and agreed on that matter),” Pilane wrote in a response to Boko.


According to Pilane, UDC is an umbrella party, an electoral arrangement; which is not entitled to dictate to the constituent parties how and what they should do in respect of its own matters including constituencies. “Let us be clear about this,” he said.
Under the current arrangement of the umbrella, Botswana National Front (BNF) owns 22 constituencies, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) 17, BMD 14 with Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) taking only 4.


The Umbrella leader, Boko when addressing media on Thursday morning revealed that part of the strategies they would employ to win power in 2019 will be to place only competent candidates in UDC constituencies in what he dub ‘meritocracy’.
The splitting of BMD resulting in the formation of Alliance for Progressives (AP) has set in motion a debate in the UDC on whether the BMD still has enough strength to deliver the 14 constituencies it was allocated after losing a number leading members to the new party.


Meanwhile Advocate Pilane is clinging on the hardline stance that all the 14 constituencies allocated to the party will not be given away to any political formation even if it is a contracting party in the Umbrella project. “Ke a nne ke bona dipampiri di kwadile gore bangwe ba eseng Ma-BMD ba ya go ema mo dikgaolong dingwe tsa BMD (I have seen media reports saying some, who are not BMD members will contest in our constituencies).


That will never happen. If any party within the UDC wants any of our constituencies, they must approach us and negotiate an exchange. We are not giving away any constituency and we are not giving away any ward,” Pilane categorically said. Pilane is confident that they will win their constituencies. “The only entitlement UDC has is to ask BMD, and indeed each of the four parties, to deliver on its constituencies and wards. BMD will, I promise,” he said.


 “We asked only for 14 constituencies as we did not want to over-load ourselves so we deliver; we did not imply that we are smaller than anybody else.” The maverick leader and renowned lawyer says they wanted only 14 constituencies because, given resource base, they thought that was the number they could manage.


“It was not because we thought the BCP and BNF should get more as there is no reason for that as all 4 parties the members of the UDC are equal within the UDC and enjoy equal rights. I do not know whether it is a question of the ownership of constituencies, but that is the loose language that people use,” he added. Pilane has advised the entire parliamentarians and councilors of the BMD areas not to be intimidated and contest in the area not in their dominion.


“Fa o le mopalamente kgotsa o le mokhanselara wa BMD, kgaolo le kgaolwana ya gago ke ya BMD (If you are legislator or councilor holding BMD seat your constituency/ward belongs to BMD).” He continued, “O go ngokang a re o tlogele BMD o ye ko phathing ya gagwe o tlaa tsamaya le kgaolo kgotsa le kgaolwana, o ya go hora; ga go kitla go diragala. BMD is strong, e nale batho. (Anyone tempting you to join their party with your constituency seat is misleading you, it will never happen.


BMD is strong and has followership) and we have strong candidates who will run in all our constituencies and in all our wards. Bagaetsho tlhe re lapisiwa ke go nyadiwa (We are tired of being undermined),” Pilane emphasized. This matter has proven to be a hot potato which has the potential to reduce the prospects of the main opposition winning power in 2019. It is expected to dominate the umbrella leadership frequent deliberations and to be the main topic at the party congress in February 24th in Moshupa.

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