Pundits say UDC must intervene in BMD infighting

Nicholas Mokwena
Wednesday, 12 July 2017

With tensions high at Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), it is time for leadership of the coalition to intervene, observers have argued.

Things have now taken a nasty turn after the BMD Disciplinary Committee last week called for the expulsion of party President Ndaba Gaolathe with his Vice, Wynter Mmolotsi, Women’s League President, Joyce Mothudi, former BMDYL leader, Phenyo Segokgo, Chairperson of Elders Committee, Pako Keogilwe and Harriet Rampa. 

The expulsion came after they were found guilty for not appearing before disciplinary hearing on two occasions. They have once again indicated that they do not recognise the expulsions as much as they did not recognise their suspensions. Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership has revealed that it would not interfere with the internal squabbles at its contracting partner. However political observers believe that for the sake of the coalition movement, UDC leadership must somersault on its stance.

Political Science Lecturer at University of Botswana Batlang Seabo told Botswana Guardian that the issue of the BMD has escalated to another level. This level according to Seabo prompts the UDC leadership to intervene in order to bring normalcy to one of its important constituent members.

Political Commentator Anthony Morima explained that even though it might be thought that it is too late for reconciliation, it has to be explored. “One wonders if it would work but it is not too late. They could have even intervened at the time of the alleged unlawful youth congress before things got out of hand”, said Morima. 

BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole stated that they have tried the reconciliation process but could not bear fruit as the party President has made it clear that he would not be part of the process. “We engaged the UDC leadership, elders within BMD and even churches to reconcile us but our comrades would not move”, Mangole said.

He added that the committee has been divided since the 2015 Ghanzi Congress because the president was not ready to work with the current National Executive Committee. During their tours around the country Gaolathe-led faction has stated that they would not reconcile with Mangole, party Chairman Nehemiah Modubule and Policy Director Dr Tlamelo Mmatli. They made it clear that what they want is for the trio to come and apologise to them for the suspension before the congress. They indicated that the congress billed for next week would resolve the standoff within the NEC members.

Seabo indicated that previously the UDC decided not to intervene opting to respect the BMD’s internal structures to resolve the matter. “But in light of the recent expulsions of certain members and the president, it necessitates prompt intervention from UDC. It cannot be simply left to the BMD’s upcoming congress to decide the fate of the party. There has to be reconciliation of some kind to forge peace and unity because instability within BMD or any other partner to UDC has far destructive spillover effects unto UDC project”, Seabo explained. 

Seabo indicated that the matter has to be approached with respect, sensitivity and in a conciliatory spirit to broker peace between the two factions. Morima believes that UDC President Duma Boko might have earlier feared to intervene with the thinking that he would be deemed to be taking sides with either of the factions. 

He feels an independent person should be brought on board. “UDC can use their international friends or local friends and even churches. I doubt the congress could solve the problem. The congress might fail to resolve the matter because it would depend on who is having a controlling hand on those who attend the congress. It might be chaotic or even worse than what we experienced when Botswana National Front split and we saw the formation of Botswana Congress Party. It is a disaster waiting to happen”, argued Morima.

UDC Chairman Motlatsi Molapisi told this publication that they are willing to assist but the problem is that the two factions have not approached them. He admitted that the wars at BMD have far reaching consequences. Molapisi who is also President of Botswana Peoples Party revealed that Modubule and Mangole once approached him. “But the thing is when they came to me they were just briefing me about the problems and not necessarily asking for help. Even at our last UDC National Executive Council we raised the matter but could not agree on how to go about approaching it because those involved have not approached us”, said Molapisi. 

He explained that when BNF was having its own squabbles in 2012/13 the UDC intervened and helped resolve the problem because Boko approached them. 

“The issue at hand at BMD is not such a big problem as people may want to make it look like. It is just minor differences that could be resolved even in a day. But since we respect their internal structures we would only intervene when they want us to”, explained Molapisi.

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