Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Policy Director Dr Tlamelo Mmatli is confident he will accomplish his ceasefire mission before the do or die party’s elective congress.
The elective congress billed for Bobonong in two-weeks’ time will be the biggest test for BMD’s stability ever since it was established in 2010. Even though the party has had its internal fights, things have never been this ugly. In an interview with Botswana Guardian this week, Dr Mmatli who is also MP for Molepolole South could not hide his disappointment at the current state of the Orange Movement.
He said he would continue calling for reconciliation even though he has attracted criticism and insults from fellow ‘Bakaulengwe’. He has been called names before but Dr Mmatli said he would not be shaken from what he believes is for the benefit of the party and not individuals.
“I am trying but people keep on saying I am not honest. They are just being dismissive and it is clear that they have already taken sides, which is not the right thing. We all can see that the party could split because of our differences but we have to save the party. We have to put the interest of the party ahead of our personal interests,” he pointed out.
Mmatli believes that the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the suspended members among them party President Ndaba Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi should meet halfway. He stated that since Gaolathe-Mmolotsi team and party Chairman Nehemiah Modubule and Secretary General Gilbert Mangole-led camp are not in good terms they should both find a common mediator to resolve their differences before the congress. “I tried reaching out to the suspended members, but they have since shrugged off my plea to meet and discuss the matter.”
The suspended members have also indicated that they would not listen to Dr Mmatli because he is aligned to the Modubule-Mangole faction. Mmolotsi has indicated that Dr Mmatli cannot be calling for reconciliation while he knows exactly where he stands. In most of the meetings that the suspended members have addressed, Dr Mmatli’s efforts have been labelled as his own strategy to save face.
Mmolotsi said Dr Mmatli cannot divorce himself from Modubule and Mangole. “These three men are the ones that are destroying our party. The three Ms who are being controlled by a certain man from the shadows behind. We want our members to punish these men when we get to Bobonong. These are the men who are frustrating our efforts to build a bigger Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC),” he told a recent meeting they addressed.
Dr Mmatli however explained that as the BMD leadership they want to see UDC flourish since BMD is a key component of the UDC. “It takes two to tango. I am not surprised that the suspended members are dismissing my efforts. I would continue to talk to other members of the party who may one way or the other reach out to them and convince them to see the bigger picture. Even when the party was divided last year over whether a special congress should be held or not my attempts were dismissed by others”, said Dr Mmatli adding that even though he has other engagements such as being part of the Congress Preparatory Committee.
He explained that people should not confuse the decision taken by NEC to suspend the members and his efforts for reconciliation. He said having been part of the NEC and National Working Committee that took a decision and endorsed the decision respectively, it does not mean that as a BMD member in good standing he could not call for cease fire.
Dr Mmatli pointed out that he is bound by the decision taken by the party leadership as the majority believed that suspensions should be enforced on the affected members. In one of the meetings held in Molepolole vice president Wynter Mmolotsi revealed that if the Modubule-led NEC does not come to them before the congress to apologise for humiliating the party president and other party leaders with suspension letters, when they get to Bobonong they would call for variation of agenda items.
“Agenda item number one would be suspensions and we would call on the congress to set aside the suspensions then party president would chair the congress”, said Mmolotsi. But Dr Mmatli believes that even during reconciliation suspension could be lifted. He explained that with the mediator involved it would not be about who won among the warring factions but the party is the one that emerges victorious. “I will continue to talk to Bakaulengwe with mutual respect because we will not always agree on everything but it does not mean we have to disrespect or insult others”, he stated. Gaolathe-Mmolotsi led faction has however maintained that Dr Mmatli’s self-acclaimed efforts are long overdue.