Last month, the leadership of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recommended that the two factions of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) submit to a power-sharing arrangement to be supervised by the umbrella.
At the time the BMD was divided between a faction led by Ndaba Gaolathe and another by Advocate Sidney Pilane. In the verdict, it was stated that both groups agreed that the main starting point in understanding the BMD crisis is their last elective congress in Gantsi. Both factions concurred that since that congress there has never been harmony, cooperation, collegiality and any semblance of esprit de corps amongst the members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the BMD.
It was also pronounced that this atmosphere of mutual suspicion and lack of trust continued through the preparations for the Matshekge congress in Bobonong. The receipt of names, and accreditation, of delegates for the congress occurred in this environment. It was further noted that there was a considerable presence of security personnel at Matshekge, which was assisted by dogs. Those who were not delegates were denied entry into the precincts of the hall where the congress was to take place.
It is common cause that the Matshekge congress was characterised by open violence “in the course of which several people were injured and the police were called”. In fact, the two factions held parallel congresses – Pilane’s group at Matshekge senior and Gaolathe’s at Bobonong Junior – where each elected it own NEC. Immediately after the Bobonong debacle, the UDC leadership
In its ruling, which we believe was mature and genuine, the UDC advised the two warring factions to submit to a power-sharing arrangement with the other group the precise terms of which will be discussed and agreed with the other group under the oversight and supervision of the UDC.
The two groups were also advised to submit to a power-sharing arrangement the precise terms of which will be discussed and agreed with the other group under the oversight and supervision of the UDC. It is common knowledge that after the verdict the Gaolathe group the following day announced the formation of the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
The formation of a breakaway party is not the basis of this editorial comment.
What we advise as a matter of principle that the UDC should not depart from their verdict. They should not change their verdict just because the other faction has bolted. The current BMD leadership is a product of a process that lacked credibility. We urge the members to force the leadership to call a fresh congress as a matter of urgency. Otherwise the UDC must stick to their principled verdict.
"The enviromental leading up to and including that which prevailed at Matshekge was not conducive to the running of a free and fair congress"