With only a week before the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) goes for its elective congress, the leader of the Opposition and current party Vice President, Olebile Gaborone has announced he is pulling out of the race for BNF President.
Gaborone who is also Member of Parliament for South East North says the race for BNF leadership has become untidy.
He said he is not willing to sacrifice his political principles by stooping to the low levels occupied by other contenders and their supporters.
“An election, which is preceded by and predicated on hate and mudslinging, sets the tone for the post-election mood and the future intra party relations,” Gaborone announced at a press conference held on Monday at his home at Tlokweng.
After dropping the bombshell that he is withdrawing from his position as a BNF presidential candidate, he then went on to thank his campaign team for their support.
Gaborone states that his decision is in the best interest of the BNF.
He says that he has realised that central committee elections are a most bruising time as most of the time the party gets polarised.
He says that the BNF’s current state calls for ‘sensitive political dexterity’. With Gaborone out of the race, it means only Gabriel Kanjabanga and Duma Boko remain the two presidential hopefuls.
Boko however still has to cross one more hurdle before the elections as his candidacy is a subject of court action.
“The party has had more than its fair share of unnecessary instability since 1998 in Palapye when the BCP was formed; the 2001 Kanye congress, which resulted in the formation of the New Democratic Front; the Molepolole congress and the serious stand off between the central committee and some members of the central committee,” said Gaborone.
“We have never cared to have to achieve an election where there is ‘a victory without losers’,” he said.
The losers never accepted the outcome of the polls and consequently engaged in destabilising the party.
Gaborone says that for the BNF to turn a new corner there is need for the party members to undertake an in-depth introspection.
He says the campaign trail has gotten so hostile that some members who are lobbying for Duma Boko were spewing inflammatory utterances and trying to fuel violence within the party.
Gaborone singled out youth activist Arafat Khan as a ‘loose canon that needs to be diffused before he causes mayhem’.
He says that it was important for the party leadership to take action against Khan.
“It is imperative for all of us in the party to do an audit of our contributions to the well-being or destruction of the party,” Gaborone told journalists.
He pointed out that respect for the party constitution is important in improving sound organisational management, which he said is lacking in the BNF.
“Some self styled veterans of the party unfortunately sacrificed party principles on the altar of political expediency,” he stated.
“They are currently tripping over each other to curry favour and ingratiate themselves to the new comer in the party,” he added.
Gaborone says that ‘war talk’ ahead of the party’s elective congress will not save the party.
In a separate interview Boko had this to say: “We cannot fault the man, only hope that he will remain loyal and continue to serve in capacities commensurate with his experience.”
For his part, youth wing activist Khan denied ever making any inciting remarks.
“I was just showing my unwavering support for Duma Boko,” said Khan. He said that Gaborone was afraid of a looming defeat against him at the party’s central committee elections.
“It’s simple, Gaborone is afraid of losing, I will respond publicly later,” added Khan.