BDP leadership rattled by request to amend party constitution

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is headed for a showdown over Constitutional review as pressure mounts to reduce Central Committee’s stranglehold over other structures of the party, Botswana Guardian can reveal.

A letter written to the party leadership by a party member who has put forward a request for Constitutional review could prompt this. According to the letter leaked to this publication and signed by Collen Mochotlhi, they request that BDP Youth and Women’s Wing be changed to BDP Youth and Women’s Leagues. This, according to the letter, is in line with provisions of the party constitution.

‘In accordance with Article 42.1.1 of the party Constitution, I hereby propose an amendment of Article 5. A Wing be replaced in favour of League,” reads the letter addressed to the party Executive Secretary Merapelo Moloise, dated 1st November 2016. BDP Constitution Article 42.1.1 states “This Constitution may be amended by a National Congress of the Party, provided that any member, committee or organ of the Party may propose amendment to the Party Constitution or Regulation by submitting, in writing, the proposed amendment to the Executive Secretary not later than four (4) calendar months prior to the next meeting of the National Council.” Article 5 of the Constitution reads that, “There shall be Youth Wing and Women’s Wing of the Party, whose Rules and Regulations shall be approved by the National Congress.”

Sources at Tsholetsa House have revealed to this publication that both the youth and women Wings have for long expressed interest in having the Constitution amended to replace Wing with League. The proponents of the name change say that a Wing lacks independence and freedom to interrogate issues candidly as compared to a League.It is only that people have been reluctant to take such a step, said a source. “The Women’s Wing was also thinking along those lines. It is important for the two to be independent of the mother body. It is not that the central committee would not have control over these leagues. It would still maintain some level of control over them.

If we have a youth league it would be able to take a decision it finds fit for the benefit of young Batswana not what we have right now with the Wing. You will think the current youth committee or its chairperson Andy Boatile is failing the youth, but the bottom line is that he has got his hands tied”, said a source within the BDP Youth Wing who cannot be named. It has been alleged that the author of the letter could have been influenced by other people within the central committee to push for the amendment. Mochotlhi is currently the BDP South East Region Secretary General. He is believed to be vying for the Youth Wing Chairmanship. “It was a well-advised move to have him put forward a request as an individual because if it was done as the regional secretary it could have required the consent of the region”, said another source at Tsholetsa House.

Indications however are that the Central Committee when it meets this coming Monday might shoot down the request. The Central Committee is said to be against having the two structures independent. All the leadership of the party wants is said to be able to put the two on a tight leash so that they cannot question any decision taken by the party leadership or demand the party leadership to account. Botswana Guardian understands that what is left is for the letter to be forwarded to all the 57 Constituencies. The letter would also be deliberated on during the party National Council around March next year.

It is said that if the Council agrees to the request then a Task Team would be established that would work on the constitutional amendment draft. The draft would be presented at the congress next year. Although he confirmed having interest in the change of the Wing, Mochotlhi distanced himself from the letter. “Whoever shared with you such a letter, which in accordance with BDP rules should be internal and confidential, should be the one to give you such details”, he said before hanging up his phone. Moloise could not be reached as she was said to be out of the office on official duty. Reached for comment BDP secretary general Botsalo Ntuane said they are aware of the letter but said he will not go into the nitty gritties of the issue.

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