The opposition suffered an embarrassing blow this week when a heated WhatsApp conversation amongst Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders was leaked online.
In the discussion, the Botswana Congress Party’s (BCP) President, Dumelang Saleshando calls his opposite number at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Sidney Pilane a criminal before twice telling him to ‘fotseke’.
Saleshando’s angry comments were in response to Pilane’s accusations that the BCP and Botswana National Front (BNF) had actively campaigned against the UDC parliamentary candidate in the recent Moshupa Manyana by-election.
In the aftermath of the damning leak, which went viral on Monday night, The Voice staffer, DANIEL CHIDA caught up with the BNF’s Publicity Secretary, Justin Hunyepa, who was part of the conversation, to get his views on the extent of the damage.
Welcome Sir, Can you start by explaining the recent leaked UDC conversation?
That is a private conversation that was not supposed to have made it into the public space; it is unfortunate that someone leaked it. It is a real conversation that we had as the UDC leaders.
What about the foul language that was used, do you respect each other?
In every set up where there is a group of people there is likely to be differences and since tempers were high then we cannot blame the language that was used. We do respect each other very well.
The debate was sparked by the Moshupa/Manyana and Lentsweletau/Mmopane constituencies allocation, please clarify the issue.
When constituencies were allocated amongst the UDC parties, it was agreed that the two mentioned constituencies be left for the BNF and BMD to engage each other and come up with an agreement on who was to own them.
However, it is unfortunate that the BMD thinks it is theirs. Despite Pilane’s statements our position as BNF is that those two are still under discussion and do not belong to any party.
How are you going to gain people’s trust and work together when you are already fighting for constituencies?
It is normal for an organisation to find itself where we are.
We had long expected challenges but since we are going to our different conferences, we expect party members to deliberate on some of the challenges that the movement is going through.
Talking of congress, BNF will be having its conference in Rakops during the President holidays, what are your expectations?
The President will give his remarks followed by Secretary General, Treasure and Regional Chairman’s reports.
Following the leaked conversation, do you expect chaos?
We are not expecting any chaos but robust debates and strategies to be employed. We are also going to discuss how we can fight for workers rights.
However, we cannot rule out the issue of members calling us to pull out of the umbrella.
There is that possibility, especially coming from the regional chairmen’s reports.
Your President Boko’s silence on this latest BMD/Pilane issue has caused speculation that they have a hidden relationship. Your take?
The two advocates are better placed to field this one because we don’t know anything personal about them but whenever there is something needed Boko consults us.
He is not quiet or sidelining his central committee as perceived by some.
We are expecting the UDC leadership to submit our constitution to registrar of companies for consideration.
Lastly, Motshwarakgole are le hemile, what is your take on that?
That is his views and we respect that.