Botswana National Front Veterans are up in arms and party President Duma Boko and Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa are in their crosshairs. The Party veterans convened a meeting in Mahalapye recently and came up with a list of concerns that read like a call to arms. The regrouping of the BNF veterans against the party leadership marks the highest watermark in the simmering tensions inside the front which is now threatening to boil over.
Among other things, the meeting of veterans took issue with the party’s decision to parcel out BNF traditional constituencies to other parties under the Umbrella for Democratic Change.
Party leader, Duma Boko and Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa caught the flack in a statement released after the veterans meeting. Boko suffered the ire of the veterans who express their unhappiness with the party leader’s alleged attempt to isolate and marginalize the BNF Central Committee.
“A Concern was raised over UDC decision to negotiate with BCP as an equal while UDC had in it four parties while BCP was a single entity.”
Veterans raised concern at allegations that Mohwasa is busy working around the clock to place his lackeys as candidates in constituencies allocated to the party.
The veterans claim the plan by Mohwasa is to isolate party members who differ with him.
Well-known names that attended the meeting included Billy Makuku, Patrick Kgoadi, Cosmos Moenga, Allen Compton, Moses Maoto, and Julius Ntshingane among others.
Since the last BNF electoral congress the party leadership has had to contend with pervasive accusations of divisive styles. BNF veterans also tried to cut Boko down to size, reminding him that as per the BNF culture he was only first among equals.
On allegations that BNF president has tried to marginalize the Central Committee, the veterans said the interim committee should seek audience with both the Central Committee and Boko to verify facts.
The veterans say the Central Committee is the legitimate structure that is in charge of political decisions.
This will fly in the face of the recurring public posture by Boko who has often said as the chief spokesperson of the party he speaks ex-cathedra.
“The supreme body of the BNF is the National Congress which also elects members of the Central Committee. … The Central Committee is the second highest structure as per the party constitution.” The veterans reiterated that convening Central Committee meetings by President is a duty not a power.
They said failure to convene such meetings by the President amounted to failure to perform official duties.
They added that such failure can attract disciplinary action in the form of a recall.
“Article 19.1 of the BNF Constitution states that any BNF structure (appointing authority) shall have the power to recall any of its representatives whose performance is below acceptable standards.”
Taking cue from attorney Patrick Kgoadi, a long standing member of the BNF, the veterans said the clause that gives party president emergency powers can only be applied in the case of an emergency.
“The house believed that the situation should also not be self-created by the president to justify application of emergency clause. Disagreements on certain issues by the Central Committee cannot be used to justify the application of Article 19.3.”
Such fears have come about following a Central Committee where it was reported that some members were warned that they were subjects of private intelligence surveillance on what matters they could be privately discussing against leadership.
On other matters, another BNF veteran Billy Makuku said the BNF should start a process of approaching members who were expelled from the party to reapply.
Although no names were mentioned, it is clear such expelled members include Lemogang Ntime and Gabriel Kanjabanga. The two were expelled after they fell out with current BNF leadership. Among other things the expelled duo had questioned the authenticity and legality of Boko’s BNF membership.
“If the BNF can reconcile with the BCP with which they fought bitterly when the BNF splits, then they can also talk to their expelled members. A precedent was set at the 2010 National Congress where some expelled BNF members were pardoned. The same gesture can be extended to members who were expelled,” said Makuku.
Yet another issue raised was the P60 000 which the former BNF youth leader has said was not accounted for by a previous youth committee that is aligned to both Boko and Mohwasa.
Concerns were also raised about a section of BNF youth that has consistently used uncouth language against BNF deputy leader, Dr Prince Dibeela.
Going by the name Fearfokol, the sub-cultural group has been at the centre of insults hurled against some activists.
The fact that the Central Committee has not reprimanded these wayward youth has not gone unnoticed.
“This is against the culture, norms and traditions of the BNF.”
Billy Makuku is currently acting as interim Chairman of the BNF veterans committee.
He declined to talk to Sunday Standard saying a public statement will be released at the right time.
BNF Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa was for his party incensed that these people could even have had the audacity to convene a meeting without his explicit authority.
He said all organs of the BNF report to his office.
“They are not a proper Veterans Committee. In fact a proper Committee is being formed through the office of secretary General,” said Mohwasa.
He said when such a committee is formed, only people who have consistently been members of the BNF for at least 25 years will be admitted to it.
Such people, he added will not be sitting on any other BNF meetings or active organs.