- Mmusi Maimane aware of BMD fracas
- DA off ers to intervene if UDC fails
- Ndaba can go form his party – Pilane
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership may have squandered an opportunity to engage the services of a neutral mediator in Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s power battles.
South Africa’s top opposition party, Democratic Alliance (DA) has long shown interest in mediating between the Sidney Pilane and Ndaba Gaolathe factions. The DA and BMD established a fraternal relationship during the time when the DA was led by Helen Zille and BMD under the stewardship of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi.
The two opposition parties are also members of the Africa Liberal Network (ALN) which Motswaledi served as Vice President (Southern Africa) until his demise in 2014. Responding to questions from The Botswana Gazette sent to its leader Mmusi Maimane the day before Ndaba Gaolathe announced the formation of a breakaway party, DA member of parliament Stevens Mokgalapa who is also the party’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation confirmed that they were aware of the BMD’s internal fights and were willing to intervene and broker peace between the two warring factions. Mokgalapa indicated that the DA recently met with Pilane in Pretoria where they encouraged him to engage in dialogue with the other faction.
‘‘I had a meeting in Pretoria with Advocate Sidney Pilane who is an elected leader of the BMD currently after their chaotic congress. We encourage dialogue and discussions to iron out issues especially through the UDC mediation, we are ready and willing to assist with mediation should the UDC intervention fail,’’ Mokgalapa pointed out and went further to say he will be coming to Gaborone very soon to ‘‘learn and see from the ground what the issues are.’’ Mokgalapa is also President of Africa Liberal Network having been elected during its 13th General Assembly in Kenya early this year.
BMD President Pilane confirmed his meeting with the DA leadership but quipped that Ndaba is free to go and form his own party if he feels the broken relationship is irreconcilable.
‘‘When we decided that we had irreconcilable differences with Khama as the leader of the BDP, we decamped to found the BMD. If bo Ndaba feel that they have irreconcilable differences with us, they may form their own party, although I would rather they decamped to existing opposition parties,’’ Pilane said last week.
However, that same Wednesday night Gaolathe dropped a bombshell with the announcement of the formation of a new party, Alliance for Progressives (AP). Pilane said he hopes someday, someone will explain to him in a way he can understand ‘‘Gore tota fela bo Ndaba bare gorileng.’’ On his meeting with the DA, Pilane said he was trying to revive the relations that the BMD had established during the times of Motswaledi. ‘‘Relationships with these and other external fraternal organizations went into a lull after Sir G passed on. We have, however, recently renewed them. I recently had meetings with some of them in London and South Africa. We intend to extend this to organizations in the US and elsewhere, and consolidate them,’’ the BMD President said.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Phenyo Butale, said in his view the DA would still have found it difficult to strike a truce between the two factions. ‘‘With the attitude of the impossible Pilane group, the outcome would have been the same,’’ Butale said on Monday. While not addressing the BMD issue specifically, DA leader Mmusi Maimane told a rally in Cape Town that coalitions are like a marriage and everyone has to work on keeping it together. This is the same advice the DA reportedly gave to Pilane during a meeting in Pretoria.