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BMD vows to keep the UDC shell

Publishing Date : 17 September, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Chairman Nehemiah Modubule has emerged out of the woods to dismiss “those expressing hatred” towards his party leader, Sidney Pilane. The controversial political party says it is ready to remain with the Umbrella and it is up to the other contracting partners to leave.

Last week the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) main contracting partners the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), held a bilateral meeting where it was resolved that Pilane and his party be expelled from the umbrella project. The reasons advanced by the two parties were anchored on the belief that members of the UDC were reluctant to register and vote for the party since they do not have confidence in Pilane and his party, the BMD.

This week, after lying dormant for a while, BMD chairman Modubule spewed venom and magma in defense of his beleaguered president.  “The pronouncement made by the two parties is not worth our energy. There is no how we are supposed to react if the two entities say they want to expel or suspend Pilane. He can only be recalled by the BMD, so what they are saying is just baseless,” he said in an interview this week.

Modubule who together with Secretary General, Gilbert Mangole and Vice President, Dr Tlamelo Mmatli are accused of engineering the split of the original BMD, after pushing out then party president Ndaba Gaolathe and host of other key leaders, believes BMD is a big brand.
Modubule said if at all they are to take the two parties seriously on their contention, they should be furnished with valid reasons.

“They should give us reasons, what is the problem with Pilane? We have asked this before and we will continue to do so, maybe that is when we can give them audience. We want valid reasons before we can join the bandwagon of hating him,” he said.  “All these things we read in the media; and we do not take them serious because if it is something critical then they would have written to us.”

BMD has been criticised by observers for lacking enough numbers to complement those of the BNF and the BCP following its split last year which resulted in the formation of the Alliance for Progressives (AP). It is believed that BMD has become a burden to UDC, owing to its weakness. However, Modubule paints a picture of preparedness for life after BNF and BCP in the UDC.

“If they are leaving it will be voluntary just like when they joined the umbrella, they were not forced. However their departure will affect them, us (BMD) and Batswana in general who saw this project as their way out of the current status quo will continue with it,” he highlighted.
UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa has also confirmed that people have called for the expulsion of Pilane and the BMD.

“The principle was basically that expel Pilane first and then the BNF and BCP will see how they will work together in the next elections and under whichever arrangement. They can choose to remain in the UDC or form another new arrangement. We will see when we get there at the right time,” Mohwasa stated. Following the February congress the UDC has not been intact, the fracas punctuated by a leaked WhatsApp conversation between the leadership – particularly Dumelang Saleshando and Sidney Pilane – many say, this is the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Pilane and BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando have not reconciled since then. Earlier this year, BNF and BCP made an attempt but failed to have UDC constituencies allocated to BMD being redistributed to other contracting partners. Pilane has been unwavering, telling them that, BMD will never allow itself to be bullied by other coalition partners. 

Recently, Pilane also emerged victorious in another battle with the BNF and BCP after UDC President, Duma Boko and the second vice president Dumelang Saleshando submitted a constitution to the registrar on the eve of their decisive party conferences in July. Pilane successfully challenged the approval of the constitution, leading to the current impasse where the organisation is in confusion on which constitution is operational. The plan according to those in the know will see the two movements leaving the UDC and forming their own coalition in the next year’s elections.

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