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UDC rejects Registrar's verdict

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
UDC members PIC:MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is ready to take war to the Registrar of Societies. According to UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, the Registrar Davids Okello-Wengi was wrong in rejecting the coalition’s amended constitution, stating that UDC was not a political party.

However, the UDC affiliates themselves have, since it was submitted last month, been in a bitter battle over a constitution submitted to the Registrar. Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) shared their opposition to the constitution, as submitted by partners Botswana National Front and the Botswana Congress Party.

Instead, the BMD and BPP has wanted the first draft of the constitution, which amongst other things, gives the president powers to expel member parties and provision for one vice president to be repealed.

It therefore assumed that Okello-Wengi’s response was certainly good news to BMD and BPP, leaving BNF and BCP with an egg on the face. Okello-Wengi acknowledged getting letters of objection from BMD and BPP and stated that registration of the UDC fell outside the scope of Registrar of Societies.  “Note that UDC is not a political party, but a cooperation agreement by the above-mentioned four political parties for a common political goal. All four parties are listed in the schedule, therefore, in our opinion, the registration of UDC’s Constitution falls outside the scope of the Act,” he wrote.

Mohwasa expressed shock at the outcome.

“The UDC is a political party just like the other parties. It was registered with the Registrar of Societies. Even at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), we are recognised as a party. Same thing with Parliament. We are shocked at this outcome,” he said.  Mohwasa would however not answer the key question of what their way forward would be. The BCP associated themselves with the views of the BNF.  “We have a copy of the letter from the Registrar of Societies that

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the UDC is not a single party, but just a coalition. This is not news.  “Members of the UDC who went to the 2014 general elections under the UDC have always known this and have always been true to this fact. That is why we all retain our individual parties,” said the BMD spokesperson, Rasina Rasina.

Rasina said the BMD position was similar to that of the Registrar of Societies, and has always been.  “The UDC remains as it was when registered in 2012. It has a registered constitution with the Registrar of Societies, which was submitted by the BNF, BPP and BMD as a coalition legal instrument.

“The three parties, and only the three parties, have the legal power of pulling it out and submitting a new legal document.

Such has not yet happened, and thus that is the only legally registered and recognised constitution of the UDC until the three members of the UDC, being BMD, BNF and BPP, submit an amended version,” he said. Rasina said the constitution that they know of at the BMD, recognises that the UDC is a coalition, and do not see any problems raised by the Registrar of Societies if it be submitted and hence they plead with the UDC NEC to do as thus.

In the 2012 UDC constitution, the umbrella is characterised as a political coalition comprising political parties, individuals, workers, religious, students and other civil and other governmental organisations.  Clause 3.3 of the constitution states that the umbrella shall contest elections as a registered political party drawing its electoral support from all sections of the society of Botswana.



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