Botswana National Front (BNF) vice president Prince Dibeela’s lobby group has accused party president of destroying inner party democracy within the party.
The group says the BNF has become almost unrecognisable under the leadership of president Duma Boko. Addressing the media in Gaborone this past Friday BNF veteran and Dibeela’s lobby group (Team Restoration)’s campaign manager Mokgweetsi Kgosipula accused Boko of running a one man show at the expense of proper party structures.
He said until recently the party had gone for an entire year and a half without a central committee meeting. “Despite this failure by the leadership to meet, important decisions were being taken on behalf of the party. One then wonders; the decisions were taken by who, after consulting who,” the party veteran said.
He also blamed Boko for the party’s dismal performance at the 2019 national elections. “Every time they speak of the 2019 elections all you hear is the word ‘rigging’. What rigging when the party had no program of action for the entire five years following the 2014 elections? BNF lost the 2019 elections before they even began because of lack of proper planning. We had a record number of breakaway independent candidates as a result of the lack of proper leadership.”
Former Member of Parliament for Jwaneng-Mabutsane Shaun Nthaile echoed Kgosipula’s sentiments saying only Dibeela can restore dignity in the party. Team Restoration called a media briefing to “clarify” their differences with former lobby candidates Noah Salakae, Kago Mokotedi, and Nelson Ramaotwana who were recalled from the lobby list recently.
Salakae wrote an open a letter recently criticizing the lobby group of victimising him and his two comrades over their stance on a reconciliatory compromise between Dibeela and Boko’s factions.
“Comrades Ramaotwana, Mooketsi and I had approached comrades Boko and Dibeela to make a truce for the benefit of the BNF and the entire opposition collective. Our lobby felt this was a factional matter, insinuating we have gone overboard by engaging a leader of a rival faction before we consolidated our position on the matter as a faction,” Salakae wrote in an open letter to this publication.
“I had a different opinion. Which opinion, fortunately, was the opinion of Comrade Ramaotwana and Comrade Mooketsi. Our view was simple. Comrade Boko and Comrade Dibeela were leaders of the BNF first before they could identify themselves with their respective factional inclinations. Important yet, slates to us existed as more as instruments for the convenience of intra-party elections. Not to stifle debates and other associated freedoms. We genuinely felt the party was heavily bruised by the contest between Comrade Boko and Comrade Dibeela.”
But Dibeela’s Team Restoration dismissed Salakae’s accusation saying following the meeting with Dibeela they (Salakae and co) were invited to address the entire team on the matter but chickened out.
“We made several attempts to give them audience but they never turned up for the meetings,” says Team Restoration. “We wish to put it on record that indeed Comrades Ramaotwana, Salakae and Mokotedi have been recalled from our team. The background to this is that a couple of months ago Comrades Ramaotwana, Salakae and Mooketsi met with our Team Leader Comrade Dr Dibeela and proposed what they called a compromise. Their argument was that the BNF is too fractured and a congress will further divide it. According to them a compromise would mean the continuance of the status quo in the leadership of the BNF. In other words Boko being President, Dibeela Vice President and some additional people added to the Central Committee. After listening to them Comrade Dibeela suggested that the trio should find time to share the proposal with Team Restoration.” But they never did, according to Team Restoration.
“We wish to point out that as Team Restoration we are open to participating in any efforts that will lead to peace and peaceful engagement in the BNF. However, we cannot compromise the constitution and processes of the Party. The BNF constitution stipulates how its leadership should be elected, and that is through congress. We have identified Comrade Dibeela as our team leader and as Team Restoration we want him as the next President of the Botswana National Front. Through his leadership we want to return our Party to the grassroots, in other words to be a mass organisation and not a leadership-based party. We want to return to the revolutionary politics of the left that speak to the struggles of the poor and marginalised.”
Salakae and Ramaotwana have been replaced on the lobby list by Nthaile and Kentse Molenza as Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General candidates respectively. Dr Parick Molutsi is the candidate for BNF Chairman.