Receipt of your letter dated October 21st is acknowledged. I must though, express my disappointment that I came to know of the communication through the social media (facebook) before seeing it through my email.
I must also state that I am a bit uncomfortable with this method of communication as it will easily, against our wish, find its way into the public domain prematurely. I strongly believe a better and tidier route could have been used. But as you have instructed me to respond to you in writing, I have very little choice but to comply. I hope and wish this communication does not fall into wrong hands and become a subject of social media abuse. I do not wish to be seen to be engaging in a public spat with my President. I am confident that I write on behalf of all the members who remained in the meeting.
Before I respond to specific issues that I am instructed by you to address Mr President, I wish to state for the record that in giving radio/newspaper interviews, I was doing so under instructions from a duly constituted meeting of the National Executive Committee sitting on Sunday 18th October 2015 at the Party office’s conference room. It felt that, as it was common knowledge that the NEC was meeting that day, and that there was need to clarify some of the issues which formed the basis of gross misrepresentation of facts relating to matters concerning the Party, it would be proper for the Secretary General to give such interviews to clear any misconceptions based on speculations that may arise. I did not act in my personal capacity as the President seems to imply in his letter.
It must be understood that the walk out staged by the Vice President was premised on the false belief that you were unaware of the agenda of the meeting.
Although he was informed that you had been consulted and had agreed to the agenda of the meeting, not that your agreement was required, he insisted on the meeting being postponed for a reason that was unclear to us. Because the meeting was divided concerning whether the meeting should proceed, the Chairman called for a vote as that is the only way in which the disagreement could be resolved. It was at this point that the Vice President and some members walked out of the meeting. Since the Vice President’s excuse for walking out of the meeting is his belief that you were unaware of the agenda, and he seems to enjoy your full support Mr President, I placed the following on record to show that his actions were totally misguided for the following reasons;
1. About a week or so before the date of the meeting, I had a discussion with you regarding the preparations for the proposed NEC workshop and meeting scheduled for 17th and 18th October respectively. You informed me that we would have to re-schedule the workshop to a later date as the facilitators would not be available and that you would be out of the country. We further agreed that the meeting of the 18th may proceed as planned.
2. I then proceeded to consult the Party Chairman seeking his proposals for the meeting agenda items and on October 13th, I tried to call you on your mobile to alert you of the proposed agenda. You did not answer my call. On October 14th, I sent you the proposed agenda items and solicited your views and suggestions on the same through an sms. On October 15th you replied me through e-mail and responded thus “dear hon Mangole. Greetings and sorry I was not able to call you before my departure. I am on transit to Geneva. The agenda looks fine. But I was not sure what the OTP part means and you will perhaps wish to elaborate. Boko and I return on 23rd October, and leave again for the United States on 25th until 5th November. I will ask …………..(lawyer) for a hard copy of the constitutional changes draft they worked on. Regards, Ndaba.”
Let it be made clear Mr President, that the agenda items presented for adoption at the meeting of 18th October were exactly identical with those that I had sent to you and sought your input on. For the Vice President to walk out of the meeting insisting that he had spoken to you and you given him your word that you, Mr President, knew nothing about the meeting and its agenda is mind boggling, to say the least. It would be very interesting to know, between you and the Vice President, who is not telling the truth.
There seems to be a totally misplaced perception fueled by the Vice President and those NEC members who walked out of the meeting that after their departure the meeting was without a quorum and therefore unconstitutional. The meeting commenced with 26 members present. When those members left the meeting, 17 members remained. In terms of our Constitution, the NEC is quorate when 50% plus 1 members are present at the commencement of the meeting. The meeting was quorate at commencement, and it remained quorate throughout. All the decisions which were taken by the meeting are perfectly proper and constitutional and, and are binding on all, including you and all who were not present.
I now proceed to respond to the specific points raised in your letter, Mr President.
1. Your View
That you are in receipt of news that purports that I communicated to the newspapers and Duma fm what seems to be a decision by NEC sitting of 18th October to re-admit Adv S. Pilane as a member of the Botswana Movement for Democracy.
Nothing could be further from the truth Mr President. The news that you are in receipt of are totally false and unfounded. The issue of Adv Pilane’s membership was never part of the agenda of the meeting in question and there is no way I could have communicated a decision that never was. There was no decision to make concerning his membership. What I communicated was the contents of some correspondence from Mochudi West constituency as read to the meeting for the information to NEC. I stated in my communication that a letter from Mochudi West was read and the letter was to the effect that the Constituency Committee had accepted Adv S Pilane as a BMD member in their constituency. The constituency requested in their correspondence that the party office should proceed with the re-activation of Adv Pilane’s membership. The information was noted. On being quizzed further I stated in the interview that having been accepted by the Mochudi West constituency as per the correspondence, Adv Pialane is now a full member of the BMD.
2. Your View
The unconstitutionality, violation of procedure and the array of circumstances around this matter leaves NEC or the Party with no choice, but to place a decision if indeed it was taken, in abeyance and then referred to the Movement’s highest organ, the National Congress for proper and fair resolution.
Given my explanation that NEC, during its sitting of October 18, never took any decision to re-admit Sydney Pilane into the BMD, the President will be satisfied that there is nothing unconstitutional or un-procedural that needs to be put in abeyance for consideration by the 2017 National Congress. Even if it was to be assumed that unconstitutionality or violation of procedure existed, I am lost for words as to why, Mr President, you could make such major pronouncement based on what you learn from newspapers and radio stations. I believe the logical action would have been for you to summon NEC to an emergency meeting to deal with the matter and get first-hand information as to what the facts are.
3. Your View
The procedure for handling membership applications seems to be fairly simple and straight forward. The application must, in terms of Article 5, more particularly 5.5, be submitted to and considered by a Branch Committee. The Branch Committee may accept or refuse the any application. Any such acceptance or refusal is subject to review by the next higher organ of the Party.
I am in total agreement with you Mr President. This is exactly the procedure that pertained in Mr Pilane’s application. The application was submitted to Mochudi West Branch and the Branch Committee has accepted the application. That the acceptance or refusal of the application is subject to review by the higher organ of the Party is arguably not automatic as you seem to suggest Mr President. In fact for your information, the NEC meeting of September 20th (at which meeting you were not present) put the concept to the test and made a determination on it. When Gaborone North rejected Mr Pilane’s application, the matter was put on the NEC agenda for possible review. It was successfully argued that given that Mr Pilane had not appealed the rejection, NEC had no business reviewing the application. Had Mr Pilane appealed NEC could have referred the matter to the Regional Committee. The matter was put to rest on the understanding that Gaborone North had rejected Mr Pilane and he had not appealed. Case closed.
I hope Mr President is not under the impression that because NEC appointed a three man task team to go and undertake some investigations in Gaborone North branch, it implies that Mr Pilane’s rejection is under review. The terms of reference for the team have nothing to do with upholding or reversing the decision of the Branch. The final decision taken by NEC is that Mr Pilane has not appealed and the issue is laid to rest.
The same NEC cannot turn around now and claim that because Mochudi West has accepted Mr Pilane’s application and there are some within NEC who are strongly against his membership, it now has the constitutional authority to subject Mochudi West decision to review. It will be unethical and hypocrisy of the highest order.
Assuming for argument sake, that the position taken by NEC at the above quoted meeting was taken out of the equation, your argument Mr President, for the enforcement of the constitutional provision to subject Mr Pilane’s membership acceptance or rejection by Mochudi West branch to review by the next higher organ of the party, whether or not the decision has been appealed, as you seem to strongly argue, is highly suspect. Since the birth of this party, thousands of membership applications approved and accepted at branch level have been processed in the party office without being subjected to mandatory review by NEC as required by the constitution. Certainly Mr President, my and your membership applications have never been subjected to such a review despite the existence of this constitutional provision. The practical and very recent example is that of our member in Francistown South who was vetted out of contesting for a council seat for the 2014 elections. He resigned from the party, contested as an independent candidate playing a crucial role in the loss suffered by our BMD candidate. Immediately after the elections he applied to the Francistown South branch for re-admission into the party. His application was dealt with at the branch level and was never referred to the NEC or regional committee for review, and in all fairness that is the application that could have warranted reviewing by the next higher organ of the party. Why do you now argue so strongly that a branch’s decision to accept Mr Pilane should be subjected to every letter of the constitution, even to a point where you want to push for a branch’s decision to be referred to the Party’s National Congress? There are certainly other important party issues that warrant referral to Congress as I would demonstrate below, and certainly not a minor issue of an individual membership application.
4. Your View
The constitution does not countenance a situation where an applicant for membership “shops” around going from Branch Committee to Branch Committee receiving rejections until he or she arrives at one that would grant an acceptance. The rejection of a membership application at Branch Committee level occludes any shopping around.
Once again I do not agree with your interpretation of the constitution in this regard Mr President. I would avoid use of the phrase “shop around” because the context in which you employ it depicts unpleasant connotations and in my view, very uncharacteristic of the Ndaba Gaolathe I knew and respected.
The way the process of considering an application for membership is defined in the constitution, if adhered to by all parties, would by itself pre-empt any attempt by the applicant to move from one constituency to another on rejection. Articles 5.10 and 5.12 confer rights on the applicant to be given reasons in writing in the event of rejection as well as the platform to appeal such a decision. They place the Branch under obligation to fulfil these rights. In the event these rights are violated, then applying to another branch cannot and should not be interpreted as violation of the constitution.
In the case under discussion, and according to documentation in our party office’s possession, in the letter given by Gaborone North to Mr Pilane rejecting his application, it was indicated that reasons for his rejection are contained in the minutes of the meeting and will be furnished with such should he demand the same. Mr Pilane wrote a letter requesting for the minutes containing reasons for the rejection of his application to assist him in appealing to the higher organ of the Party. To date Gaborone North Branch has not responded to the applicant’s letter, let alone to furnish him with reasons for the rejection. Instead the Branch chairperson was very quick to go on a private radio station telling all and sundry that they had rejected Mr Pilane’s application and citing hearsay and trivialities as reasons for their actions, and in the process subjecting Mr Pilane to abuse and insults on air with no platform to defend himself. Any self-respecting individual would surely not take such a Branch Committee seriously. If under these circumstances, Mr Pilane, in a bid to avoid more embarrassment, decides to submit his application to another constituency which he considers better placed to give sober consideration to his request is interpreted as “shopping around”, then I am lost for words. Surely, this line of reasoning cannot be associated with the Ndaba Gaolathe I knew and respected.
It must be stressed that according to the correspondence from Mochudi West Branch, they asked Mr Pilane to give them the letter containing reasons for his rejection by Gaborone North, the intention being to satisfy themselves that Mr Pilane is not running away from something in Gaborone North. They were content that they had no valid grounds to reject his application.
5. Your View
Apart from these matters of fact as stated above, I am keen to learn from you and the Chairman Mk N. Modubule why this decision, if indeed it was taken, was reached in these divisive circumstances including in the absence of the Vice President Mr W. Mmolotsi, who is acting on my behalf, along with other reputable members of the NEC and who clearly expressed and demonstrated refusal to participate in the flagrant denigration of the constitution of our Movement.
As I have already indicated above Mr President, there was never a decision taken by NEC to re-admit Mr Pilane into the Party. That decision was taken by Mochudi West Branch in Mochudi in a properly constituted meeting. If in your view the re-admission of Mr Pilane by Mochudi West is unconstitutional, you should take the matter up with the Mochudi West Branch, not myself or Mk Modubule. Honestly Mr President, you should have taken your time to corroborate and balance your newspaper and radio sources of information before pointing angry and accusing fingers at the wrong people.
Mr President, you seem to strongly believe that when the Vice President storms out of the meeting for unfounded reasons, then the meeting is rendered unconstitutional and the circumstances divisive. It is not so. He chose to leave the meeting because he could not get his way. Whether the Vice President is there or not, the meeting proceeds and takes decisions which are binding on everybody including the Vice President and you unless you can quote us a constitutional provision that says the contrary. The decisions of the NEC do not require your presence and agreement and that of the Vice President to be valid. Ours is a democratic party in which you and the Vice President do not have greater rights than all other members.
nI am under the conviction that all members of NEC are reputable. Certainly, the majority of the Congress at Ghanzi elected us into the Committee because they know we are reputable. I do not understand what criteria you use to classify those members who stormed out of a properly constituted NEC meeting as reputable as if those who remained to proceed with the business of the party are not reputable.
6. Your View
I also look forward to your explanation, if newspaper reports are true, how such a decision was taken, why such a decision was communicated directly to the media before the Acting President was informed or notified, and that not being the case, I was not informed of the decision.
Mr President, there is no newspaper that carried any report to the effect that I have announced that NEC has taken a decision to re-admit Mr Pilane. If you know of any please furnish me with such. Even if such an announcement could have been made, I would have been under no obligation to inform the Vice President because he stormed out of the meeting and said that he was not party to that meeting. I also have no obligation to inform you of decisions of the NEC but would do so if you asked.
I think it must be understood that I am the Secretary General of the Party and in terms of Article 20.5a I am empowered to communicate the decisions of all national structures on behalf of the NEC. Because both the President and the Vice President are part of the NEC, the constitution does not place me under any obligation to seek their permission to make such communication.
7. Your View
It is my view that you as the Secretary General along with the Chairman knowingly or unknowingly have acted in ways that are divisive to our party, and have gone against the spirit of unity in our larger movement, the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
I wish you could elaborate further on this rather serious statement and accusation Mr President. Myself and mk Modubule are part of the collective and you seem to be trying your level best to isolate us from the collective. It is incumbent upon you Sir, in clear and detailed terms to the BMD members to state what we have done in our individual capacities and not as part of the collective to deserve such accusations. In my view, the ways that are divisive to the party is when the party leader chooses to listen to one side, regards what he is told as the absolute truth and start levelling angry and serious accusations to the other side without giving them the benefit of a sober hearing.
How I wish you could Mr President, leave the good name of the UDC out of all this. The onus is on you Sir to squarely and without bias deal with the issues bedeviling the BMD and not drag the name of the UDC along.
8. Your View
I had indicated to you in our previous NEC meeting, my reluctance to involve myself in this matter, to preclude the idea that I may be conflicted about considering the application of a member with previous presidential ambitions. I did so inspired by my faith in yourselves, as fair and responsible leaders on whom the future of our collective vision could be entrusted. Your actions and sense of judgement have discredited my faith in you.
I surely agreed with you on the position you had adopted Mr President, and believe me, I expressed my admiration for your stance to anyone who could listen because a real leader would stay above any wrangling within the organization he leads so that when the time comes for his wise counsel to be sought, he could win everyone’s confidence. However I am very disappointed that when time came for you to finally intervene, you showed unprecedented bias and anger that is totally uncharacteristic of you. I am unable to comprehend how you can, on the basis of newspaper and radio reports as well as opinions from one side of your party members who stormed out of the meeting, form such a decisive and unbending opinion as to make such accusations and pronouncements without giving the other group (those who remained to continue with the meeting) the benefit of a sober hearing. This is not the Ndaba Gaolathe that I knew and respected.
That your faith in us (myself and mk Modubule) has been discredited does not come as a surprise. In our view, it has been there since the Mochudi Youth Congress. The present issue only provided the opportunity for you to finally express it verbally. Our fall out with you Mr President, came as a result of our pleading with you not to go and make pronouncements on radio regarding the Mochudi Youth Congress without consulting us first as your right hand men by virtue of our positions in the party. You interpreted our request as insubordination, and our opposing your proposal in the subsequent NEC meeting to have the Youth League dissolved worsened your lack of faith in us.
When we went to the Gantsi Congress your preferences and sympathy Mr President, were with the other camp. You have never looked back ever since. Everywhere you go, you surround yourself with the camp that lost at the Gantsi Congress. Whatever you do as the UDC Secretary General, you engage the services of men and women on the camp that lost at the Gantsi Congress. You have lost interest in the activities of the BMD because it is led by a committee in which your faith has been discredited and all your energies are expended on the UDC and the camp that lost at the Gantsi Congress. Truth be told Mr President, you share the sentiments of the camp that lost the Gantsi Congress elections that the current committee should fail dismally in the next two years. I assure you that we will succeed more than has any other NEC of the BMD.
I totally agree with you Mr President that your faith has long been discredited in us to a point where it is doing more harm than good to this Movement. That is too bad. We derive our mandate from the Congress and we do not need you to have faith in us if you choose not to for no reason. The unwillingness of the President to work with the committee duly elected at a congress is the real issue that threaten to divide the Party. Factions are legitimized when the Party President openly lends his support to one camp against the other. The Sydney Pilane issue is too minor and unimportant an issue to warrant determination by the National Congress and to be magnified as a threat to Party unity. It is you, Mr President, who should rise above divisive tendencies and become a unifying factor and you have what it takes to be just that.
Finally, Mr President, did it really have to come to this? When, during the last NEC meeting, we instructed the Chairman to communicate with you with a view to quickly convene an emergency NEC meeting, our intention was to avoid things coming to this level. The Chairman contacted you straight away and you agreed on the date of October 25th. Unfortunately the Vice President indicated that he will not be available on that date. My believe is that you should have been patient until the meeting we requested materialized. We could have probably resolved our issue in a cleaner and better way. But no, Mr President, you were in a hurry to vent your anger on myself and Mk Modubule on the basis of radio and newspaper reports and pass such ruthless judgement on us without the benefit of a hearing.
GILBERT S MANGOLE
BMD SECRETARY GENERAL