The political instability that has bedevilled the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) especially at leadership level seems to be far from over. At a press briefing addressed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) Working Committee members led by chairperson Nehemiah Modubule and Secretary General Gilbert Mangole, the leaders conceded to the challenges at hand.
As a clear sign of division within NEC, Party President Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi were absent from the press briefing.
In one of the startling revelations BMD NEC voiced concern over the delay by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to release the report on the cause of death for their founding president Gomolemo Motswaledi. Modubule said they are also worried that it has taken too long for the report to be released. “We are hoping that at the next meeting of the UDC leadership the report will be released,” he said. Mangole said the late Motswaledi was UDC Secretary General as such they are the one handling the investigations on his death.
On the current divisions within the party leadership, Mangole said they started to experience problems after the Gantsi congress when those who lost executive committee elections vowed to make the NEC dysfunctional. “This was exacerbated by the party President when he started working with those who lost elections,” he said, adding that the Sidney Pilane membership saga is just used as scapegoat. BMD Policy Director Dr Tlamelo Mmatli said they have long asked for reconciliation but the other faction has refused. “They have declared that there is no room for reconciliation but we thought we could find a common ground,” said Mmatli.
Elephant in the room
There have been concerns that the readmission of Pilane into the party is the one that is dividing the leadership but Mangole insisted that the other faction has failed to show what is wrong in admitting him. “We tried to find out what is really wrong with admitting Pilane into the party but the other faction has failed to come up with reasons why they don’t want him,” hit Mangole, adding that the issue is just being used as scapegoat. He said there is no guarantee that expelling Pilane will restore peace and stability in the party.
On the proposal by the Ndaba/Mmolotsi faction that a special congress be called to solve the problems facing the party, Modubule said that will cause more divisions in the party. He laughed off claims that they are afraid of losing elections at the Special Congress. “Look as the party chairperson and secretary general we know the party structures better than them and you cannot win elections by mob psychology,” he hit out at Gaolathe and Mmolotsi who have recently launched a countrywide tour.
Modubule said the current tours by the President and his deputy were being used to ridicule, abuse and insult some of the NEC leaders. “It is against this background that the NWC at its meeting of June 21st resolved to ask the President and his vice to halt these tours with immediate effect so that proper consultation with NEC be undertaken,” revealed Modubule. The National Policy Forum, which was scheduled for the President Day holidays, has been postponed due to the tense political atmosphere in the party. “The reasons for the postponement centres around the tense atmosphere in which the movement finds itself,” he said. Modubule said that the situation was not helped by the events of last Sunday meeting where their premises were literally under siege from some former army officers who are party members.
BMD Vice President Mmolotsi has dismissed an alleged instruction by the party’s National Working Committee for them – Gaolathe and him – to cease addressing members of the party around the country. “They don’t have powers to do that but only implement decisions of the NEC which has not taken that decision,” he fumed. Mmolotsi, who is currently on a parliamentary assignment in Kasane, said that they are briefing BMD members on what is happening in the party. He was surprised that Mangole and Modubule want to stop them from touring regions while they are doing that. “They are behaving as if they know everything about the movement than most of us. I find that disrespectful,” hit out Mmolotsi.
On the reconciliation issue, the maverick politician said they have not refused to reconcile but want a special congress where the BMD faithful will give them direction on what they should do on the current crisis facing the party. He said that they never said there should be elections at the special congress. Mmolotsi denied that they are attacking other NEC members in their countrywide tours. He said ahead of the Gantsi Congress he supported the Mangole/Modubule faction but only changed after the congress when he realised that they have a different agenda. “I didn’t know that theirs was serving the interest of Sidney Pilane rather than the movement. As such I switched alliance,” said Mmolotsi.