The Botswana National Front has reported the African National Congress to the South African Communist Party for fraternising with the Botswana Democratic Party.
The ANC Youth League has been working closely with the BDP Youth Wing and last year sent a high-powered delegation over here. This apparent fraternising has been frowned upon by the BNF Youth League whose delegation subsequently raised the matter at a meeting of the Young Communists League (YCL) held in South Africa.
The YCL is the youth wing of the South African Communist Party and connected to the ANCYL through the Tripartite Alliance. The latter is made up of the ANC, SACP and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
BNFYL’s spokesperson, Arafat Khan, who attended the YCL meeting, says that their concern is that, ideologically, the BDP and the ANC are like chalk and cheese and historically have never worked together.
“The BNF Youth League was concerned because previous ANC Youth League leaders have never recognised the BDP Youth League. No ANC Youth League ever visited the BDP Youth League and so we were shocked. BDP is capitalist while the ANC is socialist-orientated.
Historically, the BNF and the ANC worked together, like during the liberation struggle when our members risked life and limb to assist the ANC campaign. I am not at liberty to say what BNF members did but they played a crucial role in the liberation of South Africa,” Khan says.
It is indeed true that some BNF did and the ANC leadership recognises that. Two years ago when South Africa celebrated 13 years of multi-racial democracy, then President Thabo Mbeki bestowed the Order of the Grand Companions of OR Tambo upon former Botswana Congress Party president, Michael Dingake, for his role in the liberation struggle.
Dingake was incarcerated for years at Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela. Coming out of Robben Island in 1981, Dingake smuggled out the manuscript of Walter Sisulu’s autobiography which he subsequently handed over to Oliver Tambo.
He became the second Motswana, after Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama, to receive that honour, the highest possible for non-South Africans.
Another Motswana whose contribution the ANC recognised was the late Fish Keitseng, a Rivonia trialist who served a stint in the Gaborone City Council. When Mandela visited Botswana, the two had a brief moment to reminisce about the bad old days.
While Khan concedes that there is nothing wrong with ruling parties in neighbouring countries working together, he is nonetheless adamant that the ANC cannot choose the BDP over the BNF which it has a long association with.
Khan says that up until the current ANCYL leadership took over, there was constant communication with the BNF. The BNFYL is trying to resuscitate that relationship.
The YCL has now taken a resolution condemning the ANCYL and recommending that it “should stop working with a reactionary party in Botswana”.