Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) partners, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) -who are holding confrences in Rakops and Bobonong respectively were almost certain at the end of the week that the debacle over the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was not part of their agenda.
President of Botswana National Front (BNF) Duma Boko was looking to face an acidic leadership test as members of the country’s biggest opposition party congregate in Rakops for their annual conference. The party which in the past was known for splitting is currently divided on the issue of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) especially the membership of their contracting partner Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) with some demanding that it be kicked out while others want their party to pull out of the alliance.
In an interview with this publication, Boko said that it is all system go ahead of the conference and is not worried about the issue of BMD as it is not part of the agenda for the conference. “The conference deals with policy issue not the issue of partnerships with other parties. The constitution of the BNF, especially Article 14, is crystal clear on the issue,” he said.
He said that he is aware that during regional conference some people tried to bring up the issue but was shot down as it was against the constitution of the party. Asked what he will do if some of the regions take resolution to have the issue be debated at the conference, Boko reiterated that it will never happen. “The highest making decision of the BNF is the congress not the conference as such it doesn’t have powers and in essence it is even lower than the National Executive Committee (NEC) as such it is incapable of raising that issue ” he explained.
Tension has been fermenting between the contracting partners especially BMD, BNF and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) over constituency allocation with the fighting going public. BNF members have vowed that should Boko refuse the issue of BMD to be discussed at the conference they will call for a special congress which will remove him as the party president.
During the UDC congress which was held in February this year, Boko prevailed over BNF and BCP members when he informed that they don’t have powers to remove BMD from UDC. Some members of both BCP and BNF feel that BMD is the weakest link and have to be removed from the alliance citing the Moshupa/Manyana bye elections results in which their candidate Jonathan Sethono lost to BD’s Karabo Gare by 4 093 votes against 1 530 votes.
Boko rubbished the claim that BMD cost them the Moshupa/Manyana constituency saying it is BDP stronghold and that UDC has been doing well in all the bye elections since 2014. “We cannot gauge the strength of the UDC by one bye elections whilst we have been doing well in other bye elections that will not be a good assessment,” he said in an interview.
BMD President Sydney Pilane accused BNF Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa and Publicity Secretary Justin Hunyepa with some section of BCP of campaign against their candidate in the recent Moshupa/Manyana bye elections. This did not go well with BCP President Dumelang Saleshando who accused Pilane of being divisive and that he is a criminal and will not support him in the 2019 general elections campaign. Pilane told Saleshando that he will have his day in court and will be prosecuted and sent to jail as he is a criminal.
Asked on Wednesday about his statement that Saleshando will face the wrath of the law before the 2019 elections, Pilane said that he knows some things that other people don’t know about. “If you are living in a house of glass house you don’t throw stones,” he said without elaborating further.
BCP Youth League has called on their party to take a decision during their conference in Bobonong this weekend to bolt out of the UDC.