Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) could find itself in court over the Constitution that has been filed at Registrar of Societies.The new Constitution was filed last week Friday. According to information gathered by this publication one of the contracting partners, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) is contesting the submitted Constitution. The new Constitution has incorporated amendments tabled during the February Congress that was held at Boipuso Hall.
The congress wanted the constitution to be amended by removing the provision that catered for two vice presidents and replace it with one vice president to align it to the republican constitution. The new constitution now caters for one vice president and has given powers to the National Congress instead of the National Executive Committee (NEC). It also gives UDC powers to suspend and or expel a contracting member. The constitution recognises Botswana Congress Party (BCP) as a member of the UDC. Members of the NEC are President, Vice President, National Chairperson, Treasurer General, Secretary for Communication and Publicity, Secretary for Legal Affairs, Secretary for Labour Affairs, Secretary for Gender Affairs, Secretary for International Affairs, Secretary for Youth Affairs and one member from each of the contracting parties. The NEC shall hold office for a period of four (4) years until the next election.
During its conference in Rakops this past weekend, one of the contracting members, Botswana National Front (BNF) resolved that having noted that the new UDC Constitution has been filed with the Registrar of Societies, the BNF should ensure that the process is concluded within twenty one (21) days. It has emerged that once the constitution has been adopted the NEC might call a special congress for adoption of the constitution.
“The BMD is contemplating contesting the Constitution in court because that is the wrong constitution. It is unfair to have registered a constitution which we do not know. The correct constitution has provision for two vice presidents and not one,” said a source. BCP President told journalists in Bobonong after the party’s conference that the submitted constitution provides for one vice president. Sources have however indicated that the BMD would humiliate itself if they try to challenge the constitution. It is alleged that the BCP and BNF believe that the incorporated amendments from the February Congress are the voice of the people and the constitution should reflect as such. “That was a political solution and it would be wrong to go against the will of the people.
The February congress was a decisive congress and nothing would change that. The argument by BMD that the congress was not decisive cannot be entertained. We cannot be taking our members for granted and expect them to gather around and not take decisions,” said another source. The BMD has for long maintained that the February congress was not decisive and nothing that came out of that conference was binding. BMD Spokesperson Winfred Rasina said as the BMD they know nothing about the submitted Constitution. He said as far as they know the Constitution that was agreed by the UDC structure being NEC, caters for two vice presidents. He said the one which has been submitted at Registrar of Societies is not a UDC Constitution.
“We have decided that we should give our colleagues who submitted the constitution to go and recall it. We take it that what they did was just a mistake and we are hopeful that the mistake would be corrected. The constitution accommodating two vice presidents was agreed by all the four parties and the one with one vice president is not for UDC,” said Rasina in an interview after BMD National Working Committee held a meeting on Wednesday. According to Rasina, the submitted Constitution would be the one where BCP is not a member. He said BCP is the one that suggested two vice presidents. He said the BCP had also suggested for UDC+ which was rejected. “That Constitution which you say was submitted according to us does not exist,” he said. Rasina could not be drawn into discussing their next move should the constitution be recalled.
The constitution is said to have been filed by UDC leader Advocate Duma Boko and Saleshando who is also one of the UDC vice presidents. Interestingly the constitution under suspension or expulsion states, at Article 21.1.1 that the National Congress and/or the National Executive Committee may by resolution suspend or expel a group member for acting against the interests of the Umbrella; failing to attend more than two (2) consecutive meetings of the National Executive Committee without an apology acceptable to the National Executive Committee; or failing to pay its group membership fees.
BMD might also face expulsion should it not agree to one of the resolutions taken by both BCP and BNF that there should be primary elections in all the BMD constituencies and wards except where the BMD is incumbent. “The UDC has not notified us of any new constitution. Naturally so we are not a part of any new constitution. We thus cannot be talking about something we are not a part of. We are only aware and a part of a constitution that accommodated the BCP into the UDC. And that is the constitution that exists.
“Any new instrument, or suggestion may be taken up with the UDC NEC and such a structure, comprising of four contracting parties may agree on way forward. It is not for any individual party to decide or resolve anything on behalf of the UDC. Such will be an anomaly that in politics, the view being national governance, will communicate something against the view,” pointed out Rasina.