Leader of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Advocate Sidney Pilane brushed off the threats against him and defiantly addressed the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) political rally in Gabane on Sunday.
Prior to the rally, some Botswana National Front (BNF) activists had expressed their disapproval of Pilane as one of the speakers at the rally that was held at Moloto Freedom Square in Gabane. Some prominent BNF activists, among them councillor Arafat Khan took to social media and publicly expressed their disdain over Pilane’s inclusion in the line-up. UDC members posted comments that bordered on threats to Pilane and BMD members in the event they showed up at the rally.
Pilane, however, was unfazed by the threats and showed up at the rally on Sunday with a bodyguard in tow. In a message he sent to the Botswana Gazette before going to the rally, Pilane had indicated that he had been made aware of the threats but urged BMD members to ignore the threats and attend the rally in large numbers. ‘‘I will be speaking at the UDC rally to be held at Gabane Mankgodi this afternoon as Vice President of the UDC as will Comrade Advocate D G Boko as President of the UDC’’, Pilane wrote in the WhatsApp message he sent to this reporter. He indicated that those who were against his attendance claimed that the BMD was not invited. ‘‘Firstly, the BMD was invited through a letter. Secondly, BMD does not need any invitation to the Gabane Mankgodi rally because, after all, that constituency belongs to the BMD’’, Pilane reminded his detractors. ‘‘May I also warn all the criminals that we know very well how to deal with violent criminals.’’, Pilane warned and urged BMD and Batswana in general to attend in large numbers.
Addressing the rally, Pilane warned BNF Member of Parliament Mohammed Khan against making statements that may seem to encourage anarchy in the country. He warned Khan that as leaders they must preach the importance of the rule of law. Pilane made this call after Khan, in his address at the same rally, had said as the UDC they do not care much about the law as all they wanted was to take power and improve the lives of Batswana. ‘‘We don’t care about the law. You can go away with your law and your expertise. Don’t come here and tell us about the constitution’’, Khan had said. Pilane said as leaders they are not supposed to encourage lawlessness in the country because if they go that route, Batswana will deny them the opportunity to rule the country. He said contrary to what many people read from the letter from the Registrar of Societies that UDC is not a political party, the message was only to the effect that the UDC was made up of four political parties being the BMD, BNF, BPP and BCP.
Still at the rally, UDC President Duma Boko attacked the Registrar of Societies for implying that the UDC was not a political party. He said it was shocking how the Registrar seemed to contradict himself in the letter. ‘‘He starts off by declaring that he has no authority over our issue but goes further to make pronouncements on the same issue. Where does he now get the authority to declare we are not a political party?’’ Boko wondered. Boko said the UDC was registered and its constitution submitted in August 2012 and that is the constitution they have been using all along. He said the constitution has a transition clause that gives the UDC leadership the authority to amend the constitution when the need arises. ‘‘We are only amending an existing constitution. We did not submit a new constitution and I don’t know where the confusion comes from’’, he told his audience. Boko used Setswana, ‘makgakga, bodipa, lenyatso’ to describe the attitude of the Registrar of Societies. He claimed that the Attorney General has agreed that the Registrar was wrong in his reading of the Societies Act.