When he returns home from the US on Thursday, BMD President Ndaba Gaolathe will find a house on fire that needs more than a bucket of water to dowse. A faction within NEC, with which he does not see eye to eye with accuses him of being divisive, hypocrite, gossip monger and a liar. To make it crystal clear and hit home, BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole told Gaolathe in a frank response on Wednesday that the latter's conduct is suspect and they not need him to make decisions.
Below The Patriot on Sunday reproduces part of Mangole's letter;
Your (Gaolathe's) View
The constitution does not countenance a situation where an applicant for membership “shops” around going from Branch Committee to Branch Committee receiving rejections until he or she arrives at one that would grant an acceptance. The rejection of a membership application at Branch Committee level concludes any shopping around.
My (Mangole's) Response
Once again I do not agree with your interpretation of the constitution in this regard Mr President. I would avoid use of the phrase “shop around” because the context in which you employ it depicts unpleasant connotations and in my view, very uncharacteristic of the Ndaba Gaolathe I knew and respected.
The way the process of considering an application for membership is defined in the constitution, if adhered to by all parties, would by itself pre-empt any attempt by the applicant to move from one constituency to another on rejection. Articles 5.10 and 5.12 confer rights on the applicant to be given reasons in writing in the event of rejection as well as the platform to appeal such a decision. They place the Branch under obligation to fulfill these rights. In the event these rights are violated, then applying to another branch cannot and should not be interpreted as violation of the constitution.
In the case under discussion, and according to documentation in our party office’s possession, in the letter given by Gaborone North to Mr Pilane rejecting his application, it was indicated that reasons for his rejection are contained in the minutes of the meeting and will be furnished with such should he demand the same. Mr Pilane wrote a letter requesting for the minutes containing reasons for the rejection of his application to assist him in appealing to the higher organ of the Party. To date Gaborone North Branch has not responded to the applicant’s letter, let alone to furnish him with reasons for the rejection. Instead the Branch chairperson was very quick to go on a private radio station telling all and sundry that they had rejected Mr Pilane’s application and citing hearsay and trivialities as reasons for their actions, and in the process subjecting Mr Pilane to abuse and insults on air with no platform to defend himself. Any self-respecting individual would surely not take such a Branch Committee seriously. If under these circumstances, Mr Pilane, in a bid to avoid more embarrassment, decides to submit his application to another constituency which he considers better placed to give sober consideration to his request is interpreted as “shopping around”, then I am lost for words. Surely, this line of reasoning cannot be associated with the Ndaba Gaolathe I knew and respected.
It must be stressed that according to the correspondence from Mochudi West Branch, they asked Mr Pilane to give them the letter containing reasons for his rejection by Gaborone North, the intention being to satisfy themselves that Mr Pilane is not running away from something in Gaborone North. They were content that they had no valid grounds to reject his application.
Apart from these matters of fact as stated above, I am keen to learn from you and the Chairman Mk N. Modubule why this decision, if indeed it was taken, was reached in these divisive circumstances including in the absence of the Vice President Mr W. Mmolotsi, who is acting on my behalf, along with other reputable members of the NEC and who clearly expressed and demonstrated refusal to participate in the flagrant denigration of the constitution of our Movement.
As I have already indicated above Mr President, there was never a decision taken by NEC to re-admit Mr Pilane into the Party. That decision was taken by Mochudi West Branch in Mochudi in a properly constituted meeting. If in your view the re-admission of Mr Pilane by Mochudi West is unconstitutional, you should take the matter up with the Mochudi West Branch, not myself or Mk Modubule. Honestly Mr President, you should have taken your time to corroborate and balance your newspaper and radio sources of information before pointing angry and accusing fingers at the wrong people.
Mr President, you seem to strongly believe that when the Vice President storms out of the meeting for unfounded reasons, then the meeting is rendered unconstitutional and the circumstances divisive. It is not so. He chose to leave the meeting because he could not get his way. Whether the Vice President is there or not, the meeting proceeds and takes decisions which are binding on everybody including the Vice President and you unless you can quote us a constitutional provision that says the contrary. The decisions of the NEC do not require your presence and agreement and that of the Vice President to be valid. Ours is a democratic party in which you and the Vice President do not have greater rights than all other members.
I am under the conviction that all members of NEC are reputable. Certainly, the majority of the Congress at Ghanzi elected us into the Committee because they know we are reputable. I do not understand what criteria you use to classify those members who stormed out of a properly constituted NEC meeting as reputable as if those who remained to proceed with the business of the party are not reputable.
I also look forward to your explanation, if newspaper reports are true, how such a decision was taken, why such a decision was communicated directly to the media before the Acting President was informed or notified, and that not being the case, I was not informed of the decision.
Mr President, there is no newspaper that carried any report to the effect that I have announced that NEC has taken a decision to re-admit Mr Pilane. If you know of any please furnish me with such. Even if such an announcement could have been made, I would have been under no obligation to inform the Vice President because he stormed out of the meeting and said that he was not party to that meeting. I also have no obligation to inform you of decisions of the NEC but would do so if you asked.
I think it must be understood that I am the Secretary General of the Party and in terms of Article 20.5a I am empowered to communicate the decisions of all national structures on behalf of the NEC. Because both the President and the Vice President are part of the NEC, the constitution does not place me under any obligation to seek their permission to make such communication.
It is my view that you as the Secretary General along with the Chairman knowingly or unknowingly have acted in ways that are divisive to our party, and have gone against the spirit of unity in our larger movement, the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
I wish you could elaborate further on this rather serious statement and accusation Mr President. Myself and Mk Modubule are part of the collective and you seem to be trying your level best to isolate us from the collective. It is incumbent upon you Sir, in clear and detailed terms to the BMD members to state what we have done in our individual capacities and not as part of the collective to deserve such accusations. In my view, the ways that are divisive to the party is when the party leader chooses to listen to one side, regards what he is told as the absolute truth and start leveling angry and serious accusations to the other side without giving them the benefit of a sober hearing.
How I wish you could Mr President, leave the good name of the UDC out of all this. The onus is on you Sir to squarely and without bias deal with the issues bedeviling the BMD and not drag the name of the UDC along.
I had indicated to you in our previous NEC meeting, my reluctance to involve myself in this matter, to preclude the idea that I may be conflicted about considering the application of a member with previous presidential ambitions. I did so inspired by my faith in yourselves, as fair and responsible leaders on whom the future of our collective vision could be entrusted. Your actions and sense of judgment have discredited my faith in you.
I surely agreed with you on the position you had adopted Mr President, and believe me, I expressed my admiration for your stance to anyone who could listen because a real leader would stay above any wrangling within the organization he leads so that when the time comes for his wise counsel to be sought, he could win everyone’s confidence. However I am very disappointed that when time came for you to finally intervene, you showed unprecedented bias and anger that is totally uncharacteristic of you. I am unable to comprehend how you can, on the basis of newspaper and radio reports as well as opinions from one side of your party members who stormed out of the meeting, form such a decisive and unbending opinion as to make such accusations and pronouncements without giving the other group (those who remained to continue with the meeting) the benefit of a sober hearing. This is not the Ndaba Gaolathe that I knew and respected.
That your faith in us (myself and mk Modubule) has been discredited does not come as a surprise. In our view, it has been there since the Mochudi Youth Congress. The present issue only provided the opportunity for you to finally express it verbally. Our fall out with you Mr President, came as a result of our pleading with you not to go and make pronouncements on radio regarding the Mochudi Youth Congress without consulting us first as your right hand men by virtue of our positions in the party. You interpreted our request as insubordination, and our opposing your proposal in the subsequent NEC meeting to have the Youth League dissolved worsened your lack of faith in us.
When we went to the Gantsi Congress your preferences and sympathy Mr President, were with the other camp. You have never looked back ever since. Everywhere you go, you surround yourself with the camp that lost at the Gantsi Congress. Whatever you do as the UDC Secretary General, you engage the services of men and women on the camp that lost at the Gantsi Congress. You have lost interest in the activities of the BMD because it is led by a committee in which your faith has been discredited and all your energies are expended on the UDC and the camp that lost at the Gantsi Congress. Truth be told Mr President, you share the sentiments of the camp that lost the Gantsi Congress elections that the current committee should fail dismally in the next two years. I assure you that we will succeed more than has any other NEC of the BMD. Watch us!
I totally agree with you Mr President that your faith has long been discredited in us to a point where it is doing more harm than good to this Movement. That is too bad. We derive our mandate from the Congress and we do not need you have to faith in us if you choose not to for no reason. The unwillingness of the President to work with the committee duly elected at a congress is the real issue that threatens to divide the Party. Factions are legitimized when the Party President openly lends his support to one camp against the other. The Sydney Pilane issue is too minor and unimportant an issue to warrant determination by the National Congress and to be magnified as a threat to Party unity. It is you, Mr President, who should rise above divisive tendencies and become a unifying factor and you have what it takes to be just that.
Finally, Mr President, did it really have to come to this? When, during the last NEC meeting, we instructed the Chairman to communicate with you with a view to quickly convene an emergency NEC meeting, our intention was to avoid things coming to this level. The Chairman contacted you straight away and you agreed on the date of October 25th. Unfortunately the Vice President indicated that he will not be available on that date. My believe is that you should have been patient until the meeting we requested materialized. We could have probably resolved our issue in a cleaner and better way. But no, Mr President, you were in a hurry to vent your anger on myself and Mk Modubule on the basis of radio and newspaper reports and pass such ruthless judgement on us without the benefit of a hearing.