Crisis at BMD

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
HARD TIMES; BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe HARD TIMES; BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe PIC: OMANG KILANO

What started off as a minor dispute between two opposing camps at the Botswana Movement for Democracy Youth league congress in Mochudi two weeks ago has deteriorated into a crisis that has divided the party leadership and threatens to reverse gains made over the last five years. Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Ndaba Gaolathe stirred a hornet's nest when he hinted that he would dissolve the current BMD youth league and call fresh elections, if he had the power to do so.

Only the party constitution, which gives those powers to national executive committee (NEC), appears to have stopped Gaolathe from going through with disbanding the youth league. The fate of the current BMDYL was to be decided on Saturday (yesterday) when NEC met. A source within BMD has hinted that NEC members are divided regarding the position of BMDYL with some against the dissolution of the current committee. “Most of the NEC members are going to defy Party President and vote against the dissolving of the BMDYL as they feel it is constitutionally elected,” said the source.

The group which is against the dissolution of the BMDYL is said to be led by Secretary General Gilbert Mangole and Vice president Wynter Mmolotsi while Gaolathe is being supported by Major General Pius Mokgware and Brigadier Iphemele Kgokgothwane.

The other political dilemma that BMD NEC found themselves in is in regard to disciplinary actions to take against some of its youths who were washing the party’s dirty linen in public. “There is a call by others within NEC that some of the ring leaders should be suspended or expelled but the problem is that they are afraid of backlash,” said the source.
Contacted for comment, BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole said that he could not say much about the dispute bedeviling their youth league as they will meet on Saturday to solve the problem.

There have been some concern that the party leadership is too quiet regarding the indiscipline of their youth but Mangole dismissed that saying they are going to deal with the issue. “We wanted the whole situation to play out so that when we take a decision it will be on an informed point of view,” he said, adding that he acknowledges the concern that the nation has over the behavior of their youth.

On accusation that the party leadership are the architects of the wayward conduct of their youth as they did the same during their time at BDP, Mangole labelled that as nonsensical arguing that circumstances are totally different.

Botswana’s youngest political party and offspring of the ruling party, finds itself in a political cauldron five years after its formation. The party’s National Executive Committee was scheduled to meet yesterday (Saturday) to make a decision regarding the status of the current youth league committee which was elected a fortnight ago in Mochudi under a cloud of controversy. The elections were held amid protest from a youth faction led by Roger Mphafe citing irregularities ahead of the elections and subsequently pulling out of the race. Allegations and counter allegations are flying thick and fast between Mphafe’s team and that of the current youth league president Phenyo Segokgo with names of party leaders mentioned frequently.

The trouble besieging the party’s youth league has now deteriorated into indiscipline as the youth now attack each other publicly especially on social media using unpalatable words.

Meanwhile, the dispute took a new turn midweek when the name of Advocate Sidney Pilane, was mentioned as a possible replacement for Gaolathe. Although he has long resigned from the party there are allegations that he supported a faction of the youth league ahead of the congress. Pilane has dismissed the allegations, saying he has no interest to return to the BMD or to hold political office. "The claim that Segokgo and his Committee wish to remove Hon. Gaolatlhe and replace him with me is nonsense. I have no intention of returning to the BMD to seek to replace Hon. Gaolatlhe or to be included in any structure," said Pilane.