Boko submits Constitution for registration
Is it the old or new Constitution?
Is BCP an Umbrella member or not
A big fallout looms
All eyes are glued on Duma Gideon Boko to see how he navigates the poisoned atmosphere in the coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), as deep seated divisions explode into the open just days after controversial resolutions taken against Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) at conferences held by Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
The vilification of the media for suggesting that Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Sidney Pilane's main target has always been to take over the leadership of the UDC has done little to put out fires that have been rumbling under. Now that the two conferences have made pronouncements that impact directly on their coalition partner the BMD, an all out war has been launched. It is now one comrade against another.
At the core of the battle between BMD and BCP for legitimacy within the Umbrella is the issue of allocation of constituencies. To date the BMD has been stoic and steadfast in their conviction that the issue over allocation of constituencies to the coalition partners is water under the bridge.
On one hand BCP contends that BMD does not have capability to fill candidates in all the constituencies allocated to them and want them to be re-allocated. The main constituencies which BCP are eyeing are Mogoditshane, Gaborone Central and Gaborone North.
On the other hand BNF contends that Moshupa/Manyana and Lentsweletau-Mmopane constituencies are not yet allocated to BMD but the two parties should have bilateral talks about them. Things took dramatic twists when BNF in their resolution want the constituencies to be given to them. BMD will have none of it.
BCP on the other hand want the constituencies to be opened to all members of the contracting and contested in a primary elections except those held by the incumbent Members of Parliament which are only two being Molepolole South held by Dr Tlamelo Mmatli and Mochudi West held by Gilbert Mangole.
Of particular interest regarding resolutions taken by BNF during their just ended conference in Rakops are that, "having noted that the new UDC Constitution has been filed with the Registrar of Societies, the BNF should ensure that the process is concluded within twenty one (21) days". Secondly: "Noting that after several and consistent requests BNF made to have a bilateral with BMD to address the representation issues, BMD has consistently not been responsive. We therefore resolve that there should be joint primary elections under the UDC in all the parliamentary and council seats allocated to the BMD in 2014, except where it holds incumbency. If this fails, then the BNF should assume the leadership of these constituencies and wards. The UDC would be the final arbiter if the above two do not succeed".
Other resolutions, which are largely seen a smokescreen, include calling upon the BDP government to with immediate effect open the BCL mine in Selebi Phikwe and the Tati Nickel Mine in Francistown for operations; That the BDP government unconditionally reinstate all the workers who were dismissed following the historic 2011 public sector workers' strike; That the Public Service Bargaining Council should be established as a matter of urgency; That all unemployed graduate youth be absorbed into the public service to enhance delivery and reduce unemployment; That the BDP government reverse the 2016 amendments of the Trade Dispute Act, which categorised almost all workers as essential workers.
In their resolutions the party said that they have been appraised and deliberated thereof on the developments within the UDC collective, and resolved to remain in the UDC but directed that due to limited time before registration of the general elections, all outstanding matters within the UDC should be resolved by mid- August 2018.
“Conference further resolved that all constituencies and wards allocated to the BMD except those currently held by their Members of Parliament and councilors should be returned to UDC for redistribution,” reads resolution 5.
In resolution 6 the BCP endorsed the registration of the amendments to the UDC constitution and resolved that if the problems within the UDC persist and impede progress within the coalition, the BCP should engage in bilateral discussions with the BNF with a view of forging a working relationship.
The conspiracies and controversies over which constitution to use is diving the party down the middle. Many are asking how fit is Boko's leadership to govern when they cannott agree on constitutional terms. While some argue that there is only one constitution currently in use, others opine that the controversy emanate from the fact that the old document excludes the BCP. Those suggesting that there is a new constitution do so because the new document accomodates BCP admission, which only awaits adoption by the UDC congress.
Confusion reigns supreme every time the question of the Constitution of the UDC is raised. While some, like the BMD, are adamant that the Umbrella is currently run on the old constitution, others like BCP insist that the coalition is using a new constitution. Upon closer inspection of the reasons advanced by either camp it becomes clear that the positions adopted are purely for self-preservation and at worst an attempt to annihilate or undermine the existence of the other.
Addressing members of the BNF Boko who is also the President of UDC said the constitution of UDC has been submitted to the registrar of Societies. “I must also indicate that after the Constitutional Congress of the UDC held at Boipuso Hall, many recommendations were processed. The National Executive Committee of the UDC then asked each of the parties to nominate two lawyers or representatives with some legal background to participate in distilling from the recommendations and preparing the Constitution taking into account the best for the UDC. That process has now been completed and a Constitution of the UDC along the recommendations, duly prepared. That Constitution has now been submitted to the Registrar of Societies," he said.
On the other hand, BMD President advocate Sidney Pilane and BPP Leader Motlatsi Molapisi claim not to be aware of such developments, putting the spanner in the works of the alliance.
In most political organizations congress, which is the supreme body of the organisation, is convened by NEC. UDC does not have structures but only NEC, that is, there is no ward, branch or regional structure. So, for the congress of UDC to take place only the NEC can call it, the only functional structure of UDC.
NEC has not met since their February congress and is now divided into two being BMD and BPP on one side while BNF and its offspring BCP pulling in the opposite direction. BPP and BMD have 50 percent controlling stake in NEC, which in turn controls the UDC. With 21 days given to the UDC to solve the impasse by the BCP conference, it seems it will be an uphill battle as the leaders are still fighting in the public forum throwing each other’s dirty linen. Should the issue be resolved by mid-August it will be a miracle.
During the BOFEPUSU elective congress this year, they refused to invite the UDC leadership at the congress and called on them to introspect before 2019 general elections. Ever since Boko disregarded and showed BOFEPUSU leadership the middle finger, everything has been falling apart in the UDC leadership. Outgoing Secretary for Labor Johnson Motshwarakgole has never hidden his frustration and dislike for the way Boko is running things. The latest outburst where Motshwarakgole declared that UDC is a joke -ba hemile is a sequel to another where he openly threatened violence against anybody who harbored ambitions of hijacking the embattled BMD from its former president Ndaba Gaolathe. That was back in 2017 after the BMD national executive committee expelled Ndaba and his followers from the party following fallout with a faction sympathetic to the current president Sidney Pilane.