All indications are that the opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) are ready to go to court to challenge their suspension from the coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). The party’s national executive committee (NEC) met over the independence holidays to deliberate and strategise on the way forward, as the October 18 deadline fast approaches.
In fact, BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole has indicated that they are prepared to take the matter to court should their former allies turned political nemesis try to expel them from UDC. Bouyed by the announcement by UDC President Duma Boko that the 2012 Constitution was used to suspend them, BMD members are said to be are confident that the decision is invalid because it automatically disqualifies Botswana Congress Party (BCP), who were part of the suspension decision, from the coalition.
An attempt to register an amended UDC constitution was recently rejected by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) and the BMD is said to be banking on that development to support their argument. At the core of the suspension of the BMD by the UDC NEC is that their President Sidney Pilane is not wanted by UDC members and that BMD must replace him, a proposal BMD leadership has vehemently rejected.
Political upheaval within opposition politics has now taken a new twist, gravitating towards dirty politicking following the suspension of BMD by the leadership of the UDC last week. The parties have retreated to freedom squares where they have deployed their trusted foot soldiers to defend their turf. Heated exchanges and outbursts have become the order of the day, ever since Boko announced that the National Executive Committee has decided to suspend one of the founding partners –BMD- from the coalition. Before the ink had dried on the letter, BMD hit back and rubbished the suspension insisting that they be furnished with the minutes of the national executive committee (NEC) meeting which took the adverse decision against them and the attendance register. Allegations are flying thick and fast that the suspension of the BMD is just a formality of following due process before the BMD is slapped with expulsion on the 18th of October, a decision which was long taken.
Although Boko said BMD will be given an opportunity to respond to the concerns raised by the UDC NEC regarding their suspension, sources within the alliance suggest otherwise. “The main reason for the suspension is for BMD to remove Pilane as their party president and by the look of things they are not ready to do so,” said a source.
At the centre of the unfolding drama in the umbrella is the clash between BMD and BCP Presidents, Sidney Pilane and Dumelang Saleshando respectively, that dteriorates by the day on social media platforms with leaked conversations showing deep seated differences. The latest manifestation of lack of cohesion and apparent confusion in the UDC is caused by the drama over the identity of the running mate for Boko ahead of the 2019 General elections. If the UDC had one vice-president, the situation would be very simple since constitutionally, that person would automatically become the running mate. With two VPs, however, the ingredients for a dogfight such as is being currently witnessed were always present. The crisis has also been evident in the ping-pong game between Pilane and BNF Secretary for International Relations, attorney Nelson Ramaotwana over the UDC constitution.