The genesis of BMD troubles

Around the time BMD was formed in 2010, there was a by-election in Dibete.

Moses Ntwayagae, a member of the BMD National Executive Committee - was at the time battling with his conscience to quit the Botswana Democratic Party, which he had served since 1977, 20 years of which he was Councillor – to join the opposition Botswana Congress Party.

He was chosen as campaign manager for the BDP candidate in the Dibete Council by-elections, which were held on the 5th February and eventually won by the BDP.  On the 20th March 2010 Ntwayagae was in Mogoditshane with others to form Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). 

 

He takes the story from there.

“When I quit as Councillor of Kalamare in 2009 I had already made up my mind to leave BDP. I wanted to join BCP, but that’s when erupted the hostility between the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and president Ian Khama, which led to Botsalo Ntuane and Sydney Pilane leaving the party.

I received a call from Sydney Pilane whom I grew up with at BDP where he found me when he joined. I remember he used to invite me when he contested for Kgatleng East constituency to join him in his campaign rallies. We are age-mates. I used to support him because he has a backbone and is principled. He is not a conformist. We then formed BMD in 2010.

The first congress of BMD was in Kgale in 2011. There was a delegation sent by Pilane to solicit my support. I disagreed with them. He phoned me and I told him that I did not want him to stand. I feared for two things – that if he won, people would bow their heads in shame because many people at the time loved Motswaledi. We were still building the party and couldn’t risk alienating others. Secondly I felt that if he had supported Motswaledi he would bounce back after some time to lead the party.

If he had listened to me then, he would be president by now, he’d have gone in smoothly, but like I said he is a non-conformist principled person who doesn’t easily bend. He was voted by 125 people in Kgale whilst Motswaledi was voted by over 400. 

After the loss, he resigned, wrote a letter and attached a P5000 cheque, because he was not really quitting the party per se. We heard that he aspired for a position at the Attorney General’s Chambers, but he didn’t succeed there either.  

We are now in deep trouble because of his return to the party. Some in the leadership especially Wynter Mmolotsi were not happy with Pilane’s return. One day on our way from a failed Lerala rally (I was coming from Francistown and we had stopped over to recruit some people in Palapye with Gilbert Mangole) I was excited with what had transpired in Palapye and quipped to Mmolotsi that come December, we will have completely destroyed BDP. But his reply caught me off-guard.

He said no, in fact it is BMD which will have collapsed by December! I was with one guy from Kgalagadi and my cousin called Veronica riding with him. Mmolotsi then started talking about how he didn’t like Pilane and how bad Pilane was. I didn’t respond to his remarks because I felt I couldn’t do that in the presence of our subordinates. 

We then dropped these two in Mahalapye and continued with our journey. That’s when I asked him; Mr Vice President what are you saying? He said when they were at EXCO (Interim Committee that led to Kgale congress) after the Constitution was written and party registered, they realised that they didn’t have members in rural areas, but that if they were to decide to hold congresses at ward levels, they may end up failing to hold a national congress, so the best thing is to make an Addendum to the Constitution that provides that we use General Meetings to elect delegates. Sydney Pilane did not agree with this. 

Then began an argument between them, there was Ntuane, Dr. Mmatli, Dr Thupeng and others. Sydney then said, We cannot allow a situation where we set aside a registered Constitution; he then told them that if they did that he would sue them in court. Mmolotsi told me that this saddened him so much because he feared for his political career if the party was to scuttle at that point since the likes of Ntuane were telling Sydney to go hang they didn’t care. Mmolotsi feared that this would mark the end of his political career because he can’t go back to BDP.

He told me that he approached Pilane and pleaded with him to consider the circumstances of the time. He says Pilane then conceded and they eventually used the Addendum for the election and the matter was closed. Now, he told me that he hates Sydney precisely for this reason. I would be lying if I said he told me something else. 

But my concern to Mmolotsi was how is it you don’t like him when in fact you are the one that got him to bend? This was at the time leading to the Gantsi congress and surprisingly Pilane also didn’t trust any other person except for Mmolotsi because he felt he was the only strong character in the group. But all of a sudden Mmolotsi became hostile to Sydney and Sydney returned the favour.

We then went to the congress with Sydney’s membership in doubt. We elected the national executive committee, of which I am a member. This matter continued there. Sydney had applied for membership at Gaborone North and he was accepted. 

One day I went to the office and whilst there a lady Councillor by the name of Mma Amos arrived. She had papers and money. It was said that Sydney claimed his permanent membership No. 12. Once you have that card you are a life member. He had taken life membership and wanted that card. It was there at the time and had not been claimed by any other person.

There was a lady by the name of Mma Kono who at the time was deputy secretary. She is MoKgatla. That was before we went to congress because I remember her asking me if I were not standing for central committee elections. I heard her talking to someone on the phone telling the person on the other end that ‘Yes, they have brought his application form and money’.

After sometime when national executive committee meeting was held, this lady said, ‘I have sent back the people from Gaborone North to go and bring Minutes to validate how they accepted Pilane back into the party!´ We were dumbstruck because there is no member who after they have joined is required to bring Minutes to validate his/her membership.

That was the beginning of troubles. At one stage Pilane sent a message to Vice President Mmolotsi, which he passed to me. The message said, ‘You (Mmolotsi) go around tarnishing my name, I want you to stop that, if you don’t I will not hesitate to sue you.” 

When Sydney’s application had been returned to Gaborone North, this message landed on Haskins Nkaigwa during a meeting. Nkaigwa then took the stand that ‘bagaetsho we will not accept Sydney, he is threatening the Vice President.’ That is when things got out of hand. 

They then declined Sydney’s application for membership and Sydney then asked for Minutes as per procedure to explain reasons for denying him membership. BMD constitution provides that you can appeal to the national executive if you have been turned down. 

They refused to give him reasons hence he decided to apply for membership in Mochudi. Mochudi sought reasons for denying Sydney membership from Gaborone North, but there were none coming because there was absolutely nothing tangible.

That’s when Mochudi accepted Sydney as a member, hence the problems we have. There is nothing that we can put forward, whether differences in policy or constitution, our animosity is caused by hatred.

Sydney was a threat because he could become a president or vice president. Mmolotsi feared this probability. I used to be good friends with Mmolotsi, I didn’t know he could harbour hatred in fact I used to believe he could become the party’s president because I see Ndaba as a soft-spoken person. He has no firm stand. He is fit to lead the Ministry of Finance if we were to take over government. He has good administrative skills but politics is absolutely not for him. He is a nice person who can’t cope where there are quarrelsome people like Mmolotsi.

It’s like in BDP my belief is that Ponatshego Kedikilwe would have made a better president than Khama. If we had Kedikilwe as president and Balopi (Patrick) as his Vice, we would have had a formidable team. But then politics is like a turbulent sea it is not fair.

 

Bobonong Congress

We shouldn’t be surprised if we come back with a corpse or corpses from the congress because Ndaba/Wynter faction has no regard for the Constitution it’s only interested in propaganda. Modubule is unfortunate I must tell you because the gentleman is pragmatic. He can lead and is compassionate. He is the one that has been appealing for calm during this tempest. He is against expelling members from the party. He is tolerant and has borne many instances when the other camp flouted party procedure and constitution.

They tried to call a special congress but failed and went ahead to do president’s tour, which procedurally must be a decision of the national executive, yet they didn’t do that but went ahead disparaging the national executive.

 

What’s next?

BMD is the unifying factor in the UDC. If it pulls out, we must ask how many people are pulling out? This is a sad day. Why should we allow this imminent split? 

BDP infiltration

I disagree totally. It may be that BDP is involved, but who opened the door initially? Remember the other faction said Sydney is going to split the party. Deep in my heart I know Sydney, he had trusted Wynter, but Wynter showed that he didn’t want him, so he took the president (Ndaba) and ran with him leaving Sydney in the lurch. BDP are not fools if they realise an opening they will hammer the opposition, they are currently compromised with a popular vote of 46, 7 percent. We must get our house in order.

Because of the factions, the president (Ndaba) didn’t accept the national executive that was elected in Ghanzi he sided with the losing faction; the Mokgware’s; Chilly Kgoroba and Phenyo Butale. Others like Mahupe and Nkaigwa that had been elected with Modubule eventually ran away to join the president as is human nature!

Article 5, 7 of the BMD says anyone can join the party as long as he is 16 years old and above. Whether a first timer, or one that had resigned or one that had been expelled can apply for membership. The problem is that hatred in BMD has taken the place of the Constitution. If you hear someone say the constitution is nothing but a paper, what does he replace it with? 

We are not expecting anything good from the congress. Even as I go there I wonder if I will return with my two eyes intact. I am afraid because a leader is preparing people to kill. It is chaotic. If the ground was level, Sydney was going to win! The Branches that have so far elected show that Ndaba is already gone, that’s why they’ve decided to go the route of parallel delegates to create chaos at the congress so that there is compromise.

 

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