Seven years after its formation and less than two years before the 2019 general elections, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) emerged from its violent elective congress in Bobonong tattered.
The once vibrant BMD, which was formed as a breakaway party from the ruling party in 2010 and went on to join the Umbrella for Democratic Change alliance, which won 17 seats in parliament in 2014, made a dismal showing at the polls in 2019 with Sidney Pilane at the helm. It then retreated into its shell to hide away from the humiliation as many political pundits pronounced it dead.
However, a few weeks ago, much to the surprise of many, BMD Chairperson, Nehemiah Modubule, after a long silence and seemingly from nowhere, circulated a press release announcing an elective congress slated for October 29th in Mahalapye.
In this interview, Modubule seeks to explain why the comeback, as well as the way forward for Gomolemo Motswaledi’s party.
Can you confirm that BMD is having a congress this weekend?
Yes, we can confirm that the elective congress is on as scheduled for Saturday the 29th of October at Maeto Lodge in Mahalapaye starting at 9:30am.
Can you share with our readers how preparations are going?
Our preparations are going well. The only problem we have, like any other political formation, especially in the opposition, is finances.
Some of our delegates have expressed frustrations that they might not be able to attend the congress because of budget constraints and transportation glitches but we are expecting a minimum of 350 delegates.
We have informed our members that whoever wants to contest for any position, including the presidency of BMD, would have to be nominated on the floor of the house and endorsed before voting can happen.
Really! Where would so many people be coming from? BMD have become the butt of jokes from those who say your party is so small that your gatherings cannot even attract enough people to finish half a goat. Does the party have active structures anywhere?
(Laughs) They can clown us all they want and laugh but they must know that we are alive and kicking.
We are coming back with a bang and we shall make our existence felt once again in the political arena.
We do no not have structures but that is the whole idea of having an elective congress so that we can then go back and face the mammoth task of building structures and reviving the party to restore it back to its former glory.
Political watchers will be surprised to hear of a BMD congress because Bakaulengwe, as you are popularly known, have been absent on the political circuit for so long; why the absence and silence since 2019?
We were beaten badly at the polls. In fact, we were humiliated so much that we collapsed and fainted.
After going through all that we went through with the death of our visionary leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi, and the events surrounding the 2019 elections culminating in a breakaway party and expulsion from the UDC, our members and party cadres became discouraged and many of them did not want anything to do with politics for a while.
We know it is not going to be an easy road ahead but what I can tell you is that our members and supporters are still there and they are very much excited once again and ready to work hard to revive BMD and make it a formidable force to be reckoned with going into 2024 general elections.
Who is the current leader of the party?
We do not have a president. Sydney Pilane, who led us into the 2019 elections, resigned soon after that and, by default, I, as the chairperson, became the de-facto leader.
However, we are going to come out of the Mahalapye Congress having a president and with all NEC positions occupied.
The opposition is currently divided with only two years to 2024, how will the BMD navigate the slippery political terrain?
One of the agenda items at the congress will be participation in the general elections. We will honestly and critically discuss and debate our readiness to participate in the 2024 general elections depending on the level of our preparation.
If we agree that we want to participate, we will then take it a step further and decide how we want to do that; do we want to go solo or do we want to do it in partnership with other political parties?
Right now, we have not taken any decision on which of the political parties we would want to work with, that is if we decide to work with anyone of them at all.
Issues surrounding elections will feature prominently at the congress.
As founder member of UDC with BNF and BPP but later expelled, does BMD see itself working with UDC again?
BMD is the founder of the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
The truth is, UDC is the brainchild of BMD. The BNF wanted a pact model, the BCP, too, wanted a pact model and BPP wanted a merger but BMD prevailed over all of them with its Umbrella model and we are not happy that we are not part of what we started.
It’s like we started the Umbrella for others to benefit from it while we watch from the peripheries while they enjoy the fruit of what we started and this is heartbreaking, but at the same time we cannot force people to work with us if they are not interested in working with us.
However, there is nothing that stops us from working with UDC if they are prepared to work with us.
Does BMD see itself reconciling with its breakaway party AP, given what happened at the battle of Bobonong?
Reconciling with AP is not an easy thing to do but it is doable.
In fact, it depends on AP itself since they are the offended party but if you look at their hostile and disparaging remarks about BMD on social media, you would not think there is any chance of reconciliation there.
They are very clear that they do not like us and would not want to work with us.
As BMD chairperson, is there anything else you want to say, rally the troops perhaps?
What I would like to emphasise is that we are ready to work hard to resuscitate the organisation and therefore any other organisation that might wish to work with us is invited to talk to us after Mahalapye.