Contrary to claims in opposition circles that leader of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate Duma Boko is leaning towards his vice President Ndaba Gaolathe, there seems to be a shift.
There has been a belief that ever since the fracas at Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) played out in the open its President Ndaba Gaolathe who has been at loggerheads with his National Executive Committee (NEC) could be enjoying the support of Boko.
Boko who is also the President of Botswana National Front (BNF) this week could not say it in many words or in specifics his disagreement with Gaolathe in dealing with the BMD mess. Reading into his message this week when addressing members of the media, Boko is a firm believer of defending the Constitution- be it of the country or an organisation.
The mess at BMD has resulted in the political movement having two NECs following two parallel elective congresses held in Bobonong over the President’s Holidays. Gaolathe leads one while Advocate Sidney Pilane leads the other. The two factions last week submitted their reports and list of NEC members to the UDC to be recognised.
Seized with the two reports, Advocate Boko said the UDC would now be dealing with the matter to resolve it. The Pilane led NEC has indicated that Gaolathe together with his Vice, Wynter Mmolotsi and others were suspended and subsequently expelled from the party in accordance with the party Constitution. At that time party Chairman who stated that he is the defender of the Constitution revealed that Gaolathe and company had violated the Constitution and no one is bigger than the BMD and its Constitution.
In contrast, Gaolathe and his team believed in having political engagement with the masses. They explained that their focus would be to address the members on the status of the party rather than to focus on the Constitution. Their argument was that the congress would deal with the differences within the party.After the Bobonong events many still believed the UDC leader could favour the Gaolathe led NEC in any form. Things came out clear this week when Boko indicated that leaders should always ensure that they are not involved in any entanglement. “This is because when those who are fighting have to come to you for solution, you would not be able to assist. You would not assist the situation because you are already conflicted,” said Advocate Boko.
He explained that what is happening at BMD once happened at BNF and he managed to defend the organisation within and even at the courts of law. “We have to look at what the law is saying before we consider the political side of the matter. We have to conduct ourselves in accordance with the Constitution. When we had problems at BNF I was pounding on the facts and the law.
“As a leader I have to not be involved in any faction. I have to stay clean because these things would come to me so I would have to not be aligned so that I would focus on facts. If you are in the thick of it then you cannot see things through. Do not descend into the arena of conflict. As a leader you have to separate feelings from what the constitutional dispensation says,” said Boko.
He explained that his assignment at the BMD would not be to dismember the organisation. He said his mission, as the BNF leader is to unite the opposition parties hence his firm belief that the UDC leadership would be able to put an end to the BMD current situation. Advocate Boko has defended his stance on the constitutional obligation saying he is not overrating the law.
“We are in bondage to the law even though we might not like it. The law governs everything about us. The law allows what can you do or not do. We are slaves of the law. The law is already over bearing on us so we must understand that. We are taking cognisance of the law and not overrating it,” he stated. While the Pilane-led faction believes in remaining faithful to the constitution their counterparts have maintained that the constitution is a piece of paper that can be tossed aside in favour of political action. It was further argued that in the build-up to the Bobonong congress, party Chairman Nehemiah Modubule was focusing on the constitution at the expense of the interests of BMD masses.
The BMD situation got out of hand after the youth congress that was held in Ramotswa in April this year which was said to be unlawful. The congress resulted in Gaolathe and others being suspended from the party and the suspended undertook meetings across the country dismissing their suspensions and pleading with party members to heavily punish Modubule and company by voting them out of office at the Bobonong congress. It was argued that it was wrong for NEC to suspend and expel the party president. Modubule maintained that they were following laid down party procedure.