The quartet of Sidney Pilane, Nehemiah Modubule, Tlamelo Mmatli and Gilbert Mangole could not hide their excitement as they finally legitimised their leadership to the instruction of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). This means Pilane would ascend to the vice presidency of the UDC alongside Dumelang Saleshando.
Following the controversial Bobonong congress, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) factions sought intervention of the UDC with the Ndaba Gaolathe faction seeking a re-run of the congress while the Pilane faction insisted they held a proper congress and would not consider another congress.
However, after Gaolathe and his team quit the party to form Alliance for Progressives (AP), the BMD succumbed to the UDC ruling that they should dissolve the elected leaders and hold a special congress. The UDC had said the environment under which the congress was held was not conducive for a free and fair election.
This past weekend saw the BMD hold its congress whereupon all those who were elected in Bobonong were voted in once again unopposed. Pilane was elected president with Mmatli being his vice.
Modubule was once again elected chairperson while Mangole retained his secretary general position with Tseleng Botlhole deputising him. Percy Bakwena was elected treasurer general deputised by Simon Senkhu. Christine Ramakhubu was elected national policy director while Freddy Ramodise was elected as the national organising secretary.
Amongst those who graced the congress were Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) representatives, Ferdinand Kgosikoma and Motsei Rapelana respectively. They both congratulated the BMD for agreeing to hold their congress again stating that it was good for the UDC, as they will now be able to help campaign towards attaining power in 2019. Also present were BOPEU representatives
The congress went on in harmony despite the late start, attributed to some delegates arriving late while others did not arrive at all. “We are sorry for starting late. Our delegates could not arrive on time as bus owners whom we had fully paid failed to honour agreements and picked up people late while others ended up not coming at all,” Mangole said while welcoming guests from 42 constituencies attending the congress.
Officially opening the congress, Modubule pleaded with the party members to focus on working hard to grow the party towards 2019 elections. “The BMD is a great party. We are hurt by what happened but we need to stay focussed and refrain from attacking others, especially on social media. You should all work towards strengthening the movement and protecting it while we build up to 2019 elections,” he said. He also urged members to respect the constitution of the party, as it is an important instrument to ensure that things go accordingly.
Modubule also urged the AP to ‘come home’ to UDC, as it is the only way the ruling party could be toppled. In his brief acceptance speech, Pilane expressed delight at the members who travelled from around the country to vote for him and his committee. He promised them to work hard towards helping the BMD and UDC to attain power in 2019.