Sunday, November 29, 2020

Is rebellion brewing after BNF congress?

Trouble is brewing within the Botswana National Front (BNF) following the just ended elective congress.

Those who could not get their way at the Congress are weighing their political options and making no secret of their anger, The Telegraph has learnt.

The Boteti Region has been the first to express its concerns as evidenced by its letter which was written to the leadership ahead of the just ended Ghanzi elective Congress. The letter is dated 08 July 2013.  The region says that while it welcomes the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) project it has some strong reservations about it.

The region states that as a result of unaccountability by the BNF Central Commitee, lower structures of the party are crumbling.

Of great concern to the region is that the party leadership continues to sideline some members at the expense of unity within the party.

According to the region, the umbrella project is to blame for the disunity within the BNF, adding that the party will still be divided until the build up to the 2014 general elections. Without explaining in details, the region states that the BNF is the only party among the partners to be seriously affected by the umbrella project.

 The BNF has entered into a relationship with the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) to form UDC ahead of the 2014 general election.

The region also reminded the leadership that former BNF members, Isaac Mabiletsa, Akanyang Magama, Harry Mothei and Moses Bantsi were fired from the party because they spoke out against the umbrella but even after their departure the umbrella still haunts the BNF.

The Boteti region says the umbrella has many challenges and the solution lies in telling BNF members the truth instead of showing them the door.

The region also requests BNF President, who is also the President of UDC, to step down as UDC President and hand over the button to BMD leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi.

A leader from one of the regions who claims that they are being targeted and asked to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised said this week, “A number of issues were not discussed at the Congress. We are meeting this week to map the way forward. The leadership seems to have got wind of our intentions and they are targeting us.”

He cited allocation of constituencies, withdrawal of the BNF symbols in favour of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) as some of the issues that should have been discussed during the Congress.

“Under normal circumstances, the Congress should have endorsed a resolution regarding the withdrawal of the BNF symbols ahead of the 2014 elections but that has not happened,” said the concerned member. He added that another irregularity was that the regions did not submit reports at the Congress as provided for by the BNF Constitution.

The other disgruntled group is led by former BNF Presidential hopeful, Poloko Monang, who will hold a press conference to express their concerns.

In an interview ahead of the planned conference, Monang accused the party leadership of not being accountable to the ordinary members.

“They were wrong to say that I didn’t qualify to challenge Boko because I was nominated by regions. I challenged them to show me where in the BNF Constitution it is written that I should be nominated by the Constitution, they failed to give a reply,” said Monang. He described the move as an assault on democracy.

“The BNF is a party that advocates for democratic ideals more than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) but is seems it is regressing under the current leadership,” he said.

He reiterated that he was denied a right to challenge Boko under the pretext that he did not garner enough support to be declared a potential candidate, saying such an argument was aimed at “cheating me and some BNF of our chance to express our democratic right”.

Monang also accused Boko of using unpalatable language in reference to other BNF members. ┬á“He should desist from such. That is not the language that is synonymous with the culture of BNF.

Comrades have not known leaders who are pompous and arrogant. That is not the spirit,” he said.

Contacted for comments, BNF spokesperson said if a member of the party is aggrieved, he or she should take up the matter with the party leadership instead of discussing the matter with the media.

“The Constitution does not give details; it only spells out broader frame. Besides the Central Committee has powers and that it is why it was resolved that those who intend to stand for elections should approach the structures of the party, but what he did was that he approached the Central Committee,” said Mohwasa. ┬á

While he said he was not aware of the letter from the Boteti region, Mohwasa said, “If there is such an issue it will be discussed by the party not through the media.”

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Sunday Standard November 29 – 5 December

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of November 29 - 5 December, 2020.