The Botswana National Front president, Otsweletse Moupo, and his Central Committee were by Friday said to be likely to walk into a hostile reception in their weekend sojourn to Francistown on Saturday. Irate BNF members on Friday told The Sunday Standard that they were eagerly waiting for the arrival of the embattled BNF president and his central committee so that they could touch base and talk about a few issues that they feel are pertinent to the progress and unity of the party in the north.
While the BNF leadership last week played down suggestions that they are headed for a showdown with disgruntled party members in Francistown, The Sunday Standard is reliably informed that BNF members were by Friday holed up in clandestine meetings to plot an avalanche of dissent on the beleaguered president and his central committee.
A BNF veteran and long time activist on Friday told this paper that they were eagerly waiting for the arrival of Moupo and his CC because they had a few issues that they felt had to be given urgent attention before any action is taken to chart the way forward.
“We will not be derailed because we feel that this leadership has repeatedly failed to face reality and deal with the fact that party structures in Francistown and surrounding areas are crumbling. This time we want to hold the bull by the horns,” he said.
Chief amongst their grievances is the issue of the regional committee, which they say is illegitimate and unconstitutional. He revealed that the present regional committee was initially an ad-hoc one that was selected just a month before the Molepolole congress with the sole mandate of representing the region at the congress.
“This committee was elected a month before the Molepolole congress with the sole mandate of preparing for the congress, representing the region at the congress and then coming back to report to the regional membership after which fresh elections would be held for a new regional committee,” he said.
However, he said they have since become very disgruntled as the fresh regional elections that they were promised never took place. At the same time, the committee is said to be dysfunctional as it rarely meets and hardly has any records of meetings. He also said that the committee is dysfunctional because some of its key members have since relocated from Francistown and have never been replaced while they continue to shun attempts to summon them.
“After the Molepolole congress, the regional chairman left for Chobe and has never been back. We also know that he has never been replaced as there have not been any elections. How do you expect the party to survive without a regional committee?” he asked incredulously.
He added that they are now convinced that they were duped into electing a regional committee that was sure to elect Moupo at the Molepolole congress and continue to represent his interests in the region without delivering their mandate to the people.
They dismissed the statements by the Chairperson of the Francistown region, Kenosi Mogomotsi, that the region is fully supportive of Moupo as blatant sucking up to the party president, further dismissing him as “a member of the dysfunctional and illegitimate regional committee.”
Other members of the Francistown region, some of whom were initially sympathetic to Moupo, told The Sunday Standard that they were concerned about the way the central committee wantonly meted out suspensions and unnecessary disciplinary action against members who venture to express sentiments that are perceived to be anti Moupo. “We want to believe that this is a democracy and as such any member is allowed to raise their concerns without fear of reprisals. However, we have seen the CC and the disciplinary committee repeatedly displaying draconian tendencies and complete disregard for the notion of consultation, which eventually crippled the party and gave us bad press,” they said.
It appears that Moupo still enjoys a certain degree of support in the Francistown region as some members are still calling for calm and consultation.
However, many of those who initially supported him have expressed dissatisfaction with the route that the party has taken since he ascended into power. “What worries us most is that all the party structures are virtually nonexistent, and we are left with very little time before we go for elections. It is also sad that our leaders continue to turn a blind eye to this sorry state of affairs and, instead of embracing the other members, they label them as renegades and shut them out,” they said.
As a result, the Francistown region is divided amongst those who feel that Moupo should be made aware of his errors and given a chance to make amends while his fiercest opponents feel that he must be told to pack and go because he is singularly responsible for the quagmire that the party finds itself in.