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Pilane, the political renegade of UDC

Recently Duma FM carried a series of interviews with key Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) players in an attempt to understand the source of the current impasse.

This was a result of an interview with Sidney Pilane, the president of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).

Johnson Motshwarakgole the strongman of Botswana labour movement and one of the founders of Botswana Federation of Public Private Parastatals Unions (BOFEPUSU) was also interviewed. This was followed by interviews with former convenors – Emang Maphanyane, Lebang Mpotokwane, and Dr Cosmos Moenga. In fact Moenga was interviewed twice. 

Although an interview with Rev Dr Prince Dibeela was mainly about him, it also touched on UDC with special emphasis on the Transition Team. Overall the interviews were insightful.

The intervention by Comrade Nelson Ramaotwana was exceptional. It was a masterstroke that should be a treasure for future generations.

The author should consider depositing the material with the National Archives and the University of Botswana Library. The former convenors put to rest insinuations that they wished to remain as convenors post-2014 general elections.

In their own words, they could not be convenors in the negotiations between UDC and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) because they were conflicted.  The conflict of interest referred to arose from the fact that they were co-opted into the old UDC National Executive Committee (NEC).

In fact Moenga was the 2014 UDC candidate in Ngami where he became a distant third with less than a thousand votes. 

The convenors made shocking and misleading claim that Duma Boko the, president of UDC who is also the president of Botswana National Front (BNF) did not have the mandate to represent the other contracting parties i.e. Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and BMD.

Pilane shares similar views informed by his position that the negotiation was between four parties instead of UDC and BCP. 

However, proponents of this view fail to explain why BCP was allowed six (6) members while the other parties were represented by two (2) members each to constitute the six (6) UDC team.

All the documents from the Streams and Main Negotiation Team (MNT) clearly show without doubt that the negotiation was between UDC and BCP as equal partners.

Another truth is that constituencies were allocated between UDC and BCP (40/17).

Although even the blind can see that Pilane is the source of troubles in the opposition coalition, the convenors think the problem is attributable to the manner in which BCP was admitted in the UDC.

They keep on making reference to the marginalisation of the Transition Team (TT).

According to Dibeela, upon conclusion of the negotiations, the old UDC NEC established the TT to draft an agreement to be signed by all the four parties.  This was to be accompanied by the policy document, report on constituency allocation, and the revised constitution. 

It would appear that the process was later overtaken by events when the Oasis Royal Blue Paper was delivered by Boko as the final negotiation agreement between UDC and BCP. 

No sooner had the reconfigured UDC taken shape than the BMD

violent confrontation erupted resulting in a split and the birth of Alliance for Progressives (AP). 

An opportunity was created allowing Pilane to take over as BMD president. Since taking over the BMD, Pilane has acted and behaved like a renegade.  In his own definition a renegade or seingaudi is someone who always acts against the will of democratic voice of the majority. He is hell-bent on undoing everything that was agreed before he assumed the leadership of BMD. 

According to his disposition, UDC is not a political party and that the negotiation was between four parties. Misleading interpretations of what transpired during the talks was sufficiently buttressed by Comrade Ramaotwana in his brilliant paper and subsequent radio interviews. 

A typical renegade, Pilane withdrew the participation of BMD in critical tasks assigned by UDC leadership. His party rarely cooperates with other contracting parties.

Their participation in ward allocations was inconsistent and often took unilateral decisions.

During the preparations of the UDC congress, parties were invited to send representatives to various teams tasked with specific duties.

BMD representatives did not bother participating. The less we discuss the captured section of the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) the better.

The UDC conference was convened on the basis of the registered constitution that stipulated that for every 750 members, a party would register one delegate. Upon realisation that he would not have a sufficient number of delegates, Pilane reneged on the agreement. After protracted discussion, NEC relented. A compromise was hatched to allow each party to have 10 delegates per constituency.

This compelled the NEC to evoke the Transition Clause in order to suspend the existing constitutional provision, setting out the number of delegates per party based on proportionality.

When each contracting party was required to send two representatives to be part of a team that was tasked with incorporation of constitutional amendments emanating from the constitutional conference, BMD refused to participate claiming that the constitutional conference was a social gathering of friends. 

In Pilane we see, hear, and read an unrepentant renegade, seingaudi. 

The latest concerning Pilane’s erratic behaviour was when he acted against the UDC president by interfering with the long-awaited registration of the revised UDC constitution claiming that he knew nothing about it even though BMD participated in all the stages from the Streams, Main Negotiation Team (MNT) up to Boipuso Hall Constitutional Conference.  This has caused uproar within the BNF and BCP ranks.

It is against this background that any attempt to absolve Pilane from the current crisis within UDC is being disingenuous to say the least. The man was at the centre of the BMD split that in turn impacted negatively on the opposition coalition as a whole. 

Anyone who refutes this would deny that the sun rises from the East and sets due west. Operation Gcwihaba is still on.

*Comrade Molotov is not the author’s real name

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