Officially, Lobatse MP Nehemiah Modubule is no longer a member of the Botswana National Front but last Sunday afternoon he was decked out in party colours, chanting party slogans and spitting political fire at a party rally.
Were it possible, he would like to do more than that ÔÇô banish BNF president Otsweletse Moupo to “hell.”
To Otlaadisa Koosaletse, the man chosen to replace Modubule as the BNF’s parliamentary candidate in Lobatse, Modubule delivered a stern warning: “He obviously doesn’t know me very well but he will shortly. He says he wants to contest on behalf of the BNF in Lobatse when the party already has a candidate ÔÇô Modubule.”
Under normal circumstances, when general elections are eight short months away, the object of the opposition’s ire should be the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. Modubule and other speakers at the rally were, however, ringleaders in a civil war that gives them little chance to lobby missiles over the political fence. There was, of course, the token dig at the BDP ÔÇô especially President Ian Khama and the party’s parliamentary candidate, Moggie Mbaakanyi ÔÇô but for the most part, anger was directed at BNF comrades rather than at ruling party opponents.
Last year, the BNF central committee took the decision to expel Modubule from the party for what was sold to the public as “unbecoming conduct.” The leadership particularly frowned upon the MP’s public attacks on Moupo. The supposed expulsion notwithstanding, Modubule is still carrying on like a BNF member in good standing. He told the Sunday rally: “Take it from me; I’m not going to surrender at any given point. Moupo has to realise that he doesn’t own the BNF. We must face him squarely and tell him that to his face. I will take him head on if that’s what he wants. I am not going anywhere. I will fight him in freedom squares and in the courts until the bitter end. I told him long ago: your time is up. To hell with him!”
One of Modubule’s supporters who got to speak at the rally is Elisa Ntereke, a sitting councillor in the Lobatse constituency. Ntereke said that members like her who support Modubule have to openly express their support.
“We have stayed quiet for far too long but now is time to come out,” she said, adding that Moupo’s quiet diplomacy on the xenophobia in South Africa and the mismanagement of the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe were just two more examples of his lack of readiness for prime-time leadership.
To subtly make the point that Modubule’s support extends beyond the constituency’s borders, the rally featured speakers from neighbouring constituencies like Thamaga and Kanye. One was Tona Selala, a suspended party member who recently contested local government by-elections in Thamaga West as an independent candidate.