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Pilane jams UDC

Publishing Date : 14 May, 2018

Author : AUBREY LUTE

Political own goals and egocentrism would soon give validity to the much touted ‘paralysis’ of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). While UDC leader Duma Boko could be genuine in his “UDC or nothing” chant, some of those working with or around him in the power corridors of the main opposition bloc are conspicuously compiling a death certificate for the organisation.


The UDC held a meeting this past weekend and the leaders failed to agree on anything substantive that could give life to a campaign for the 2019 general elections or least for the Moshupa-Manyana bye-election which slated for June 16 this year.In fact what came out of the meeting are clear signs that the UDC is nearing breaking point. It has emerged from the weekend meeting that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is fed up with the merry-go-round discussions of the UDC, and has threatened to abstain from a UDC retreat scheduled for June 1st to June 3rd this year. At a strategy level the BCP is further preparing for life outside the UDC because it is not a recognized member of the formation.


The weekend meeting was the first since the UDC congress in February this year. Previous attempts to convene a meeting failed because Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Sidney Pilane saw no need for a meeting, this publication has gathered. For the BCP the big issue at this meeting was the incorporation of congress resolutions into the agreed draft constitution and registration of the constitution of the UDC.


But the BCP were frustrated at this meeting as Pilane insists that in terms of the currently registered constitution, BCP is not a member of the UDC – all contracting partners agree that he is correct. The problem as apportioned to Pilane is that he however does not accept the constitution that was negotiated between the BCP and UDC. Furthermore he also does not accept any of the congress resolutions on the constitution.


In terms of the negotiation structure, the constitution was crafted by a stream that had six BCP representatives and six UDC representatives. BMD’s Pilane was part of the stream as a UDC representative. The constitution then went to the main negotiating team, which effected some changes. The final negotiation level was the BCP and UDC presidents who also agreed on some changes.


It has been established that Pilane wants the draft initiated by the stream and rejects changes made by all higher level negotiating structures. As for the congress he rejects all the resolutions. His argument is that UDC cannot have a congress in terms of the constitution they have originated.


The weekend meeting agreed that each of the parties in the UDC should nominate two representatives to infuse congress resolutions into the constitution and submit composite document by 25th of this month. UDC will then have a retreat on 1st, 2nd and 3rd June to discuss all outstanding issues including the constitution.  But inside sources say the UDC is stuck, the majority of BNF central committee members want to exit the UDC because of this paralysis.


All the while the BCP has made it clear at the weekend meeting that it will not attend the retreat if there is no progress on finalization of the constitution. They stated that there is no point in attending a retreat of an organisation that does not recognize their membership. Indications are also that BNF representatives safe for Boko, who is the face of the UDC, may not attend the retreat.


WHAT PILANE IS REJECTING

Some of the UDC resolutions that Pilane is against include the amendment of article 5.3 of the constitution in which there is a call to replace ‘may’ with ‘shall’ so that it becomes mandatory. It was also resolved that article 5 should include suspension and termination of membership, as well as allow for voluntary termination and confer powers to suspend on the UDC NEC through simple majority and powers to expel to a special congress.


The congress had also agreed that termination of membership, as stated in the old constitution should be incorporated into the new constitution, hence there should be no individual membership within the UDC. Delegates agreed that membership to the UDC shall only be through party affiliation, they argued that there is no logic in individual membership outside political parties as the rights of those individuals are not articulated.


The congress also agreed that the founding members should be mentioned in the constitution. In addition they resolved for that article 6.1 (f) Equitable should be replaced with proportional because the latter recognises the strength of the contracting parties. Delegates also adopted the principle of consensus and/or simple majority. They also agreed that contracting parties should subscribe to the UDC and the amount of subscription should be moved to regulations and not specified in the constitution.


Those who attended the congress as delegates also resolved that the NEC should decide if amount of contribution should be proportionate to membership base. There were also resolutions on article 7 to deal with Congress, extra ordinary congress, NEC and Policy forum. It was adopted that the structure will not have either women’s league or youth league. Delegates also agreed that the principle of proportionality should be used as opposed to 10 members per constituency and decision-making shall be by 2/3 majority or 50% of the constituency members.


WHY BDP WILL WALK IN MOSHUPA-MANYANA


Another hot potato is the Moshupa-Manyana constituency. In2014 Moshupa Manyana was apparently allocated to the BMD but they failed to get a candidate. BNF then contested for UDC because they had a candidate. Following the ascendancy of Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi to the Presidency a vacancy has been created and a bye-election is scheduled for June 16 and the BMD is now saying it has a candidate and wants to contest. But the BNF is insisting that BMD has no presence in the constituency.


UDC activists are frustrated that an election writ is out but UDC does not know who is to contest. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to capitalize on this confusion and punish the opposition with a heavy margin. The election date is also very close.

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