For the first time in the history of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congresses, a sitting President will be challenged. President Ian Khama will be the first BDP president ever to face a challenge from a party member seeking to replace him as head of the party and eventually State President. A Maun businessman and BDP activist Boikobo Diile has expressed his intentions to challenge Khama at the party’s National Congress scheduled for July. Diile, 36, said he is ready to take the bull by the horns and defy the BDP’s long standing tradition of endorsing the incumbent President without competing through elections.
“It seems all our past Presidents are from the southern side of Botswana. I want to be the first man from Ngami Constituency to be the President of Botswana. Hope you will give me all the support I need”, Diile posted this message on the Facebook page of an organization called Gumare Advisory Association. In an interview with the Sunday Standard on Tuesday, Diile confirmed his intentions to stand for the BDP presidency in July. He said he cannot sit back and watch his beloved party die in the hands of Khama whom he accused of running the party like a family enterprise.┬á
“The party is not being run properly. I want to bring back my party to its former glory days and I have the support from many people in the party”, an upbeat Diile said. He said it was wrong for the party to be run through Presidential directives where favoritism and nepotism are the order of the day. He said the BDP was sending a wrong message to the electorates by bringing back election losers into positions of power. He gave a specific example of Reaboka Mbulawa who was defeated in the general elections but ended being made Council Chairman for the North West District Council. The Makalamabedi born lad said he has traversed the breadth and length of this country soliciting support from various people and the response has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. He said is sure of support from the Ghanzi region which is aggrieved with the way Khama has handled the CKGR issue.
According to Diile, the Ngami region supports him because of Khama’s leadership’s lack of care for the beef industry in the region and the ‘stealing’ of Batawana’s natural resources by outside elements in the full view of Khama. Diile said he has support from Kgatleng especially the Royals because, according to him, unlike Khama’s administration, his will include Bogosi as an integral part in the running of this country. He also encouraged BDP members of parliament and council to rally behind him because once he becomes President, their right to express their views openly will be guaranteed. Diile is not fazed by prospects of rubbing Khama and some BDP members the wrong way through his decision to challenge him. He said most of the people he has talked to have expressed how grateful they are to have finally found a brave man to challenge Khama.
He said many people in the Ngamiland region told him that while they have always wanted to stand for Presidential election, they were scared to challenge Khama, not because he is capable but because he has instilled fear on people. Diile appears very serious in his endeavor. In fact our telephone interview had to break for some time as he was aboard the ferryboat at Mohembo near Shakawe, crossing to Kauxwi to continue with his campaigns. Diile said what sets him apart from Khama is that he will make use of the BDP’s Council of Elders for advice whenever the going gets tough. He said he will work closely with Dikgosi and retired BDP elders. Asked if he is not scared the party will expel him for breaking the tradition, a defiant Diile responded, “Ga gona yo ka mpatikang mo Domkgrag” (no one can expel me from the BDP). Diile is not new to making unpopular political decisions. In 2009 he stood as an independent candidate in the Ngami constituency after a fall out with Jacob Nkate.
He was Nkate’s campaign manager and he boasts that he is the reason Nkate lost in the general elections. After the general elections, Canada-based Political Scientist Professor Amy Poteete observed that “In Ngami, Boikobo Diile ran as independent after a falling out with the BDP incumbent, Jacob Nkate. Diile attracted only 1.6 percent of the vote. Nonetheless, he made a difference in this tightly fought constituency, which the BDP lost to BAM by only 1.9 percent”. Diile had garnered only 219 votes in the elections that were won by BCP’S Taolo Habano with 6 836. Diile has been a member of the BDP for 15 years but had a short stint at the BMD in 2011 where he also tried to stand for the party’s Presidency against the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and Advocate Sidney Pilane.