Unhappy with the Umbrella Model and the creation of a new party, a number of Botswana National Front (BNF) youth leadership members are lobbying for the party to withdraw altogether from the talks or at least reconsider its decision on the appropriate model ideal for ongoing opposition cooperation talks.
So serious is the issue that it has split the party’s youth wing central committee into two.
Recently, the party’s youth league central committee held a not so unpleasant meeting that resulted in some members walking out of the meeting following a resolution to issue a statement criticizing the party leadership for settling for the Umbrella model, that some youth members feel will eventually erase their party from the political landscape.
The lobby against the Umbrella model is allegedly led by the BNF youth president, Kagiso Ntime, and Dumizwini Mthimkhulu.
While another group that is content with the Umbrella arrangement and registration of a new party is led by Arafat Khan.
Interestingly, Ntime is part of the BNF team representing the party at the negotiations.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Ntime, who revealed that although the league supports opposition cooperation, some members have reservations about the cooperation model that the three parties have settled for.
“We had a meeting at which numerous issues were discussed and there was a heated debate over the model,” said Ntime.
He said that at the meeting, some committee members felt that the Umbrella model contravenes the party’s congress resolution which called for negotiating without selling the soul of the party.
Ntime has denied lobbying for the party to withdraw from the talks but insists the up coming BNF Conference must debate the Umbrella model so that BNF membership can know what arrangement the party is getting itself into. He accused some party members of trying to swindle the BNF cadres by not telling them more about the Umbrella model and its implications.
“There are some comrades who believe people must not be given all the information regarding the Umbrella model,” he said.
He said that some people had not been consulted on the Umbrella model, adding that the rage and rigor that characterized the youth wing meeting was not surprising.
“Let me state that I support a process where BNF members are given all the information regarding an Umbrella model. It’s easy to strike a gentleman’s agreement at the table but going into the ground is going to be difficult….in the ultimate analysis parties are likely to disappear,” said Ntime.
“The overarching objective is to unite. Unity must be driven by a strong programme and our unity must not be a unity of excitement,” he added.
He said that if opposition parties are genuine about cooperation then all efforts will have to go to the new party.
He said that if the party leadership does not inform its members about the Umbrella arrangement then the membership will hold some responsible for selling the soul of the party.
He said that by encouraging a debate on the issue among BNF members he is being fair to the BNF, its cooperating partners.