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Rebuttal of pilane’s fallacies

Publishing Date : 31 July, 2018

Author :

NELSON RAMAOTWANA


“To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organisation and the individual are harmed”. p. 31 Chairman Mao.


The above statement by Mao urged me to respond to statement made by Mr Pilane and the letter submitted by his party to the Registrar of society. I listened to Mr Pilane’s interview on radio and also read a letter submitted by his party. Mr Pilane’s interview raised many issues, notably; 1) that UDC is an electoral arrangement and not a political party, 2) the Constitution submitted by comrades Boko and Saleshando is not the proper one (unlawful), and the proper one is that produced by constitutional stream, 3) big brother mentality, 4) the BNF Conference resolutions at Rakops have no bearing in UDC, 5) the UDC Congress was a gathering of friends and 6) that the operational of Constitution of UDC is the one registered on the 23rd August 2012. These are some of the issues he discussed on the 18th July 2018 at Duma Fm.


I now wish to respond accordingly and put to rest a lot of misleading statements made during the said interview. I state from the onset that, I was a member of the Constitutional stream under the UDC banner. I also want to concede upfront that the operational Constitution of UDC is the one registered on the 23rd August 2012 until the Registrar of Societies approves the one submitted by Presidents Boko and Saleshando. I will start with the genesis of the UDC Constitutional amendment and thereafter deal with Pilane’s misleading statements.

GENESIS OF UDC CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

It is imperative to state that UDC NEC agreed in February 2016 or thereabout that the operational constitution be amended and set up terms of reference with the following objectives:

A constitution that is simple, clear and practicable, and conducive to cultivating an efficient, effective and excellent political entity and organisation. Conceive, crystalize and draft a comprehensive constitution of the UDC that is a significant improvement of the current one. Advance a revised constitution that is conducive to the ideals and values of the UDC over the long term, one that will stand the test of time.


The said UDC NEC meeting also resolved that the draft constitution be completed by 15th May 2016 whilst final draft was envisaged to be ready by 30th August 2016 and UDC Constitutional Congress was envisaged to be in September 2016. Unfortunately, the constitutional congress did not take place in September 2016 since the Constitutional stream completed its work on the 15th October 2016 with referrals to the Main Negotiating Team (MNT) to resolve differences arising from the Constitutional stream. Having outlined the background information, I now refute Mr Pilane’s misleading statements one by one.


IS UDC NOT A POLITICAL PARTY?

Mr Pilane contends that UDC is not a political party but an electoral arrangement. The million dollar question that springs to fore is, what is a political party?  According to Pilane, an electoral arrangement is not a political party. I beg to differ. Any political formation be it an alliance, merger, coalition or whatever nomenclature it uses to label itself, as long as it contests for the assumption of state power, is a political party.


Section 150(2) of the Electoral Act (cap.02:09) clear states that a political party may apply through its leader or secretary for registration of a symbol to be used by it at elections. The High Court interpreted section 148 (predecessor to section 150(2) above) and held that only political parties (apart from Independent candidates) register to contest state power not non-political formations [see BPP v BAM & others (2002)2 BLR 333 at 340].


Article 3.3 of the Constitution of UDC registered in 2012 clearly states that UDC is a political party. It provides thus; “The Umbrella shall contest elections as a registered political party drawing its electoral support from all sections of the society of Botswana”. The same provision still exists in the Constitution submitted by UDC President and his Vice-President Saleshando and it exists in the one registered by BMD. To this end, Pilane misled Batswana by saying UDC is not a political party and I am at lost what he wanted to achieve by that statement.

WHICH UDC CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT IS VALID?

This question arises from the fact that Pilane said he does not recognise the one submitted by UDC President and his Vice-President, comrade Saleshando, thereby claiming that his, is the legitimate one. There is a reason why Pilane wants a draft rejected by the Constitutional stream. The reason is, he conveniently appointed himself First Vice-President. That is where his interest lies.


Pilane’s interest in his so-called Constitution is captured by Article 8.1(b) of the draft submitted by his party to the Registrar of Societies on the 18th July 2018, which reads that; “the person who, for the time being, is the President of the BMD shall be the First Deputy President of the UDC responsible for Administration and Management and shall be the First Vice-President of the Republic of Botswana when the UDC is in power”.


In the interview Pilane misleadingly said that the constitution of Constitutional stream is the valid one because all four parties accepted the draft whilst the one submitted by comrade Boko and Saleshando is unknown to him. Pilane statement is far away from the truth. The truth is that the final meeting of the UDC Constitutional stream was held in Francistown on the 15th October 2016. From UDC, only BPP and BNF attended and Pilane did not attend and none from BMD attended the said meeting. BCP was duly represented.


In the said meeting BCP and UDC were deadlocked on the issue of staffing of UDC NEC as well as who should be First Vice-President of UDC and the State upon assumption of power. It is imperative to state that the issue of two Vice- Presidents was mooted by BNF representatives during their consultation with the Secretary General in order to break deadlock. Each party Representatives were permitted to seek guidance from their principals on the deadlock.


Upon reporting back, BPP, BNF and BMD agreed on the principle that they be two Vice- Presidents. BCP representatives rejected the proposal of Two Vice- Presidents. Similarly, BCP, BNF and BPP agreed that there were two Negotiating parties, being UDC and BCP, whilst Pilane made it clear that they were four (4) political parties and he represented BMD not UDC.


His reasoning was, if he accepted that the negotiations were between BCP and UDC that would mean that BCP would have half of the positions in UDC NEC as well as constituency allocations. The BCP denied his exposition and explained that it only applies to UDC Presidency but he maintained his stance nonetheless.


After protracted persuasions and prodding, members of the Constitutional stream agreed at Francistown that we were deadlocked and we could not agree on the composition of the Executive of the structure of UDC+ at party level and the composition of the Executive arm at National level upon assumption of power. At Francistown, the Constitutional stream agreed that Nelson Ramaotwana of UDC and Martin Dingake of BCP should author a referral to the Main Negotiating Team capturing the areas of disagreements. We did author a referral, of which its main theme was shared in what’s up group of the Constitutional stream. The said referral was signed by Ramaotwana and Dingake.


For avoidance of doubt, the BCP never supported the creation of two Vice-Presidents at UDC and State levels. The Constitutional stream resolved as follows in relation to the creation of two Vice-Presidents;

“We were also not agreeable on whether or not we should have two (2) Vice-Presidents. The BCP is against the creation of two Vice-Presidents at both party level and national level. For the longest time, as a party, they have taken the position that BDP Government has been creating positions for its members without any justification. In any event, under the current constitutional dispensation, there is only one Vice-President, who by law is entitled to take over the Presidency in the event of inability of the President to discharge his functions.


The UDC representatives say it is logically sound to cede the Vice-Presidency to the BCP in view of the fact that the BCP has ceded the Presidency to the UDC. However, the UDC suggested that in light of the sentiments expressed by the BMD to the effect that it is not willing to concede the running mate-ship of UDC to the BCP, there is need to consider the feasibility of two Vice- Presidents at National Level.


Given the legal hurdles of having two Vice-Presidents at National level, it was agreed that the matter is sensitive to warrant a discussion in the presence of the BMD, which at the last meeting they weren’t, and had asked that the meeting proceed. Given the sensitive and the BMD absence then, the UDC collective then present, thought a referral was best. A referral was therefore agreed upon”. In light of the above referral by the Constitutional stream, it is clear that Pilane once more fed Batswana with misleading tales to suit his ambition- First Vice-Presidency.


It is clear that the BCP at the Constitutional stream rejected the notion of two Vice-Presidents. After referral to the Main Negotiating Team (MNT), our draft was improved by removing plus (+), Secretary General Post. The MNT also added Congress as a structure. The Presidents of BCP and UDC also debated the feasibility of two Vice- Presidents and BCP compromised by allowing it for progress sake.


The above explanation takes me to the next issue raised by BMD objection to the Registrar of Societies dated 18th July 2018, especially paragraph 16 thereof; which reads thus;

“The only new constitution of the UDC which was negotiated and unanimously agreed by the Constitution Stream and improved by the Upper Negotiating Body comprising equal representation of all 4 parties is the only one we accept as legitimate and as worthy of approval and registration by the Registrar. We attach that Constitution hereto”.


I have already demonstrated the debates and disagreements of the Constitutional stream above and there is no need to repeat same here, save to say the BMD letter is fallacious. The Constitution submitted by BMD at the Registrar of Societies is exactly the same with the one, the Constitutional Stream disagreed about. No improvements are contained in BMD constitution as submitted at the Registrar of societies, except the absence of plus (+) in the name UDC. What a disgrace?


The BMD conveniently omitted to state that the Main Negotiating Team included the UDC Congress as the Supreme Body and same was discussed and agreed to by the Presidents of UDC and BCP. BMD also conveniently omitted to tell the nation that the process started at streams, through MNT and ended with UDC and BCP Presidents. This then takes me to confidently answer the question, which constitution is valid? The answer is, the one submitted by Boko and Saleshando on the 13th July 2018.


REASONS WHY BOKO AND SALESHANDO’S CONSTITUTION IS VALID

When negotiations were commissioned in August 2016 at Oasis Motel, all four parties agreed that the negotiations were between BCP and UDC.

All four parties agreed that there were three layers, commencing with streams, through MNT and at the apex being BCP and UDC Presidents.

All four parties agreed that the main purposes of streams were to gather data to enable MNT to speedily conclude talks.

It was also agreed that where the streams were deadlocked there should refer the matter to MNT and in turn if MNT was deadlock, it would refer the matter to UDC and BCP Presidents for finalisation and/or resolution.

In this vein, the constitutional stream disagreed and deadlocked and referred the matter to MNT. MNT as the main negotiating team, had power to overhaul, what the lower stream proposed and in this case, it included Congress as a structure of UDC.

The Presidents of BCP and UDC also agreed on two Vice-Presidents of equal status as announced by comrade Nehemiah Modubule late last year in a UDC Press conference addressed  by Presidents of UDC and BCP, in the presence of BMD and BPP.

The final product of the constitution of UDC is what BCP and UDC Presidents agreed upon and same was tendered to UDC NEC and in turn UDC NEC convened UDC congress to settle the draft once and for all.


Again Pilane and his BMD submitted a constitution that was rejected by the constitutional stream, MNT and Presidents of BCP and UDC. To say Pilane’s draft constitution was the correct one is a fallacy? Assuming I am wrong; is there any other authoritative source that backs up my explanations above. Before, I deal with authoritative sources, let me bring to your attention another BMD and Pilane’s fallacies as contained at paragraph 11 of their letter dated 15th July 2018 submitted to the Registrar of societies on the 18th July 2018 which reads;


“In addition to that, the new constitution which they claim is of the UDC is unknown to the BMD, the BMD has not participated in its preparation, the BMD now knows but does not agree with what it contains, the BMD does not know who prepared it and on whose instructions, the BMD does not agree to the approval and registration of that constitution by the Registrar, and the BMD opposes the approval and registration of that constitution”.


Is it correct to say that the BMD does not know who prepared it? What a joke? Comrade Modubule sat in the MNT where it was agreed to remove first and second Deputy President and replaced same with just two Vice-Presidents of equal status. An addition of Congress as a structure was also made by MNT. The said agreements were then submitted to the BCP and UDC Presidents to endorse and they did not agree to them.


Any doubting Thomas is referred to the report of the BNF President delivered to the BNF Central Committee on the 16th January 2018, which report covers all processes from streams up to the BCP and UDC Presidents, especially paragraphs 19-27 thereof. The said paragraphs are surmised as follows:

“When all lower stages of the process were concluded all matters from these were referred to the Presidents who were to meet and render their final decisions on all matters and aspects of the process. The meeting of the Presidents was held in Francistown and were attended primarily by the UDC President for the one part and the BCP President, for the other part.


The President of UDC brought along … the then President of BMD as well as the President of BPP. No agreement could be reached at that meeting. The UDC then convened its NEC to discuss the developments. At this meeting all the outstanding issues were resolved by the UDC NEC and contact was made with BCP immediately to seal the agreement and it was duly sealed. … at the stage at which we are, the report of the Transition Team has been submitted to the Presidents who have discussed it generally and have moved the NEC to convene a Constitutional Congress to extensively discuss and settle the Constitution before submitting it to the Registrar of Societies for Registration. The Congress will be held on the 23rd February 2018 in Gaborone”.


The answer as to who gave instructions is contained in Boko’s report. UDC NEC concluded all outstanding issues and negotiation with BCP was sealed by the UDC President and BCP President. The instruction came from the said two Presidents as mandated by their respective parties, namely, UDC and BCP. Having debunked Pilane and BMD fallacies, I now turn to refute another fallacy relating to the status of UDC Congress held on the 23rd February 2018.

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