A Group of veteran Botswana National Front (BNF) activists are angling for an emergency Congress where they will demand that the party be briefed in full on circumstances surrounding the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and also the chaos at Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
A groundswell of opinion is beginning to emerge that too many issues have been kept away from members. That was done as part of a narrative not to risk the inner party stability in the build up to 2019 General elections.
Speaking in confidence to the Sunday Standard, one of the veteran activists who are campaigning for an emergency Congress said the BNF leadership has not been fully transparent and honest with the party on some of the key issues that have a long term impact on the stability of the party and the coalition.
Calls for an emergency Congress come in the wake of information indicating that some of the procedures that had been recommended for adoption by UDC have been disregarded by leadership, including a dispute over the positions of two UDC vice presidents.
According to information contained in the Memorandum of Understanding seen by Sunday Standard, the UDC is supposed to have a first Vice president and a second Vice president.
“The UDC coalition shall present one running mate who is currently holding the position of UDC First Vice President,” reads the memo in part.
The 1st Vice President will be responsible for organisational management and strategy. They will also be responsible for supervising administration and office activities.
More importantly, the first Vice president will deputize for the President as and when necessary.
On the other hand 2nd Vice President will be responsible for Policy and Treasury. They will also supervise drafting of UDC manifesto, supervise preparation and consultation process for policy discussion and for a policy congress, supervise treasury and fundraising activities of the party, be responsible for all electoral processes within the UDC and deputize the 1st Vice President “as and when necessary.”
Another source of contention between the BNF leadership and the party veterans is the Botswana Congress Party membership of the UDC.
According to the existing Constitution of the UDC registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the BCP is not a member of the UDC.
Yet an impression has already been created that BCP has gone through the stages to join UDC.
BNF veterans are not happy that BCP has been allowed to sit in on UDC meetings that have recently been trying to resolve BMD disputes. They also want the position of UDC Convenors explained.
Recently it was announced that Convenors were no longer allowed to sit in on UDC central committee meetings. It is not clear what forum of the UDC took the decision.
“We have no problem with BCP joining the UDC. If they want to do so they have to sign and submit themselves to the Memorandum of Understanding which spells out the issue of Vice presidents, among others. In our view the BCP is not yet a member of UDC.”
They are worried that one or both faction(s) of the BMD might opt to challenge the decision of UDC national executive on the basis of BCP non-eligibility.
There is also internal party housekeeping issues that the BNF veterans are itching for the leadership to address. Apparently since the Francistown Congress, both the BNF Central Committee and National Executive had not been holding regular meetings as required, until only last month.
“We have learnt from some Central Committee members that there was not even a meeting among them preparing for the recent Kang Conference. These issues need to be explained to members why our leadership is not taking its responsibilities seriously.”