Political manoeuvering inside the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) could best be defined like the sophistry of a chess game. Just when one faction was moving for a checkmate supposedly armed with endorsement to go for a special congress, the other faction pulled the rug from under their feet – out-rightly rejecting what they perceived to be an ‘unconstitutional move’. The letters from party regions presented before the Central Committee meeting, seeking a special congress, were rejected and thrown out the window as unconstitutional, as warring factions employ tactics akin to a chess game. The game of chess is a complicated game employing zero sum, competitive Machiavellian strategies to protect key political positions. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king, and to protect the queen, the most powerful piece in the game, as long as possible. Armed with letters from regions across the country, the Mmolotsi/Ndaba faction - led by MP for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale - thought they had checkmated the Mangole/Modubule faction.
But little did they know their political rivals had an ace up their sleeve, counter strategy to draw Mmolotsi/Ndaba’s attention in one direction while their target was the constitution, a killer punch aimed at self-preservation and buying time. The Mangole/Modubule faction, which is currently controlling the BMD National Executive Committee, informed their political rivals that the letters from the regions offend the constitution as ward committees didn’t hold meetings to elect delegates to branch congresses leading to regional congresses, which have powers to take a resolution to petition NEC seeking a special congress. Information gathered by The Patriot on Sunday has revealed that the two factions are busy canvassing support behind the scene, away from prying eyes of on-lookers. The Mmolotsi/Ndaba faction recently embarked on a countrywide tour addressing party members about the sorry state of the party and all the constituencies addressed agreed that a special congress must be called to bring peace to the party.
The Mmolotsi/Ndaba camp
Led by the party president Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi, the faction is said to be enjoying the support of Botswana Federation of Public Service Employees Union (BOFEPUSU) and that of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko. The faction’s other key members include MP for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale, Major General Pius Mokgware of Mankgodi/Kumakwane, MP for Mogoditshane Sedirwa Kgoroba and Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkaigwa. Most, if not all its key members, are losers at the 2014 elective congress in Gantsi and have been labeled in some quarters as power mongers. It was clear that the faction enjoys the support of BOFEPUSU and UDC during the commemoration of the passing of BMD founding leader Gomolemo Motswaledi at Gaborone Civic Centre when some of the BMD NEC members were side-lined. At the commemoration only members of the Mmolotsi/ Ndaba faction were given platform to speak while none of the other faction was given platform.
Most of them did not attend the commemorations. At the service BOFEPUSU Labour Secretary Johnson Motshwarakgole criticised Modubule and Gilbert Mangole for bringing the party into disrepute. In an interview Mmolotsi rubbished claims that some BMD NEC members were side-lined at the commemoration, saying that both Modubule and Mangole are part of the UDC leadership. The faction is also enjoying public sympathy who felt that the other faction want to destroy the party. One the reason that they want the special congress is to replace the current NEC which they feel is being controlled by its founding member Advocate Sydney Pilane. Mmolotsi said they are hopeful that the special congress will be held this year so that peace and tranquility might prevail in the party. “Regions have been instructed to go and call both wards and branch congresses and come with resolutions to call the special congress and we are optimistic that will happen before the end of this year,” said Mmolotsi who is also the MP for Francistown South.
The Mangole/Modubule faction
The Mangole/ Modubule faction is led by Secretary General Gilbert Mangole, National Chairperson Nehemiah Modubule and Director for Policy Dr Tlamelo Mmatli. The faction said they have never known peace since coming from the elective congress in Gantsi as those who lost in the elections have vowed to ensure that they will make their stay in NEC unbearable. At their recent press briefing they said that they are certain former army commanders in the party who are instilling a sense of fear among members and spreading propaganda. While the other faction was visiting regions and drumming up support for a special congress, the Mangole/Modubule faction is said to be establishing branches and wards around the country. Recently the faction launched the Tswapong, Mmadinare and Kgalagadi regions and they are busy forming ward committees. Two weeks ago Modubule was in Tobane village near Selibe-Phikwe introducing the ward chairperson while Mangole was in Streizendam in Kgalagadi area resuscitating party structures. This is said to be their political chess game to out manoeuvre their counterparts should a special congress be called.
Mangole confirmed that they are currently building party structures around the country, especially in the northern part of the country. “Recently we have managed to have the SHOMA region which consists of Shoshong and the two Mahalapye constituencies and the Tswapong region,” said Mangole, adding that their intention is to cover the whole country by the end of the year. Asked if this is not part of their plan to prepare for the special congress, Mangole answered in negative saying he has been doing that since elected at Gantsi congress. “Most of the regional, branch and ward structures we have are just on interim basis hence we are going around the country to have proper committees established,” revealed the outspoken Mochudi West MP. He said building and resuscitating structures has become a tall order since the party is embroiled in political turmoil. On being side-lined during the commemoration of Motswaledi, he said they have expressed their displeasure at how it was done. “He was our president first and then UDC Secretary General second as such we wanted to play a leading role in organising his memorial service,” he said.