While he is saying very little for now, the Botswana National Front Vice President, Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela, is quite willing to reveal that he has been “approached” by party members who want him to run for a Central Committee position. What position he wouldn’t say but further revealed that he is seriously considering such overtures and is consulting within the party. He uses that most basic of mathematical formulae to express whether he will run or not.
“For now, it’s 50-50,” he says.
Following a disastrous performance in the 2019 general election, there have been calls for Duma Boko to step down both as BNF and Umbrella for Democratic Change president. UDC is the loose confederation of three opposition parties: BNF, Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana People’s Party. Boko’s centrality in the UDC project is rooted in his presidency of the BNF and the diminution of his powers will necessarily start in the latter. The party holds an elective congress in July this year at which any challengers to Boko will have to step up. As VP, Dibeela is the most obvious choice to replace Boko. However, it is no secret that the two men are not on the same page with regard to what direction the party should take as well as what course of action the UDC should take after losing the 2019 general election.
Dibeela has been quoted in the media as expressing dismay about “Fear Fokol”, a militant youth group in the BNF that has been known to support Boko fervently. Dibeela ran for the Mmathethe- Molapowabojang parliamentary seat but unlike Boko (who ran for Gaborone Bonnington-North seat) graciously accepted defeat. Naturally, the rivalry between the two men, as indeed their differing outlooks, will yield wildly divergent lobby lists ahead of the July congress.
Results of the 2019 general election show that the BNF did badly compared to the BCP and this factor alone may be the reason the latter’s president and UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando, feels confident enough to challenge Boko for the presidency. Dibeela’s assessment is that the “biggest crisis” that the BNF faces is that its foundation has been weakened.
“BNF is a party of the masses but we have lost touch with them – all of us,” he says. “We need to go back to the basics and build the party from the bottom up.”
He particularly mentions cells and wards as party structures that are in desperate need of rebuilding.