In what could be the beginning of flexing of muscles to exert his authority, Botswana National Front President, Otsweletse Moupo, has used his executive powers to suspend Harry Mothei from the party with immediate effect.
Mothei had defied the BNF leadership by standing against Nelson Ramaotwana for the position of Gaborone City Council Mayor.
Other Councilors mentioned in bad light are Leano Matseka, Segakisa Phoi and Malema Phaladi.
Mothei is accused of “disobeying a lawful” decision of the party by standing against a BNF candidate.
In his action against Mothei, Moupo is supported by the BNF Youth League, which has Ramaotwana as its President.
“We support what Moupo has done even though we would have wished for Mothei’s expulsion,” BNF Youth League Spokesperson Arafat Khan told The Sunday Standard.
He said it was clear that what Mothei destabilized the BNF.
“How can a BNF member find it fit to collaborate with the Botswana Democratic Party?” asked Khan.
“We wouldn’t want to talk about internal differences within the executive because we are not aware of those; what is important is that we endorse the President’s decision,” he added.
Moupo resorted to the use of his executive powers after he could not garner consensual support from his other executive committee members.
The BNF Executive Committee is made up of Moupo (President), Kathleen Letshabo, (Vice President), Akanyang Magama (Secretary General), Moumakwa (National Treasurer), Mohammed Khan (Deputy Secretary General).
The Sunday Standard’s investigations have turned up information of a power struggle inside the BNF with Moupo, supported by ordinary members on one hand, and an isolated clique of central committee members on the other.
The standoff between the two branches of the BNF reached fever pitch high last week when, in a show of defiance, Harry Mothei toppled Ramaotwana for the position of Mayor.
The BNF had endorsed Ramaotwana as its official candidate, instructing other BNF councilors to vote for him and not to contest against him.
Moupo’s action against Mothei is likely to spark revolt against him.
Some of his erstwhile backers including Mino Polelo, one of the BNF’s leading academics has recently gone public criticizing Moupo.
In the Mayoral elections, Mothei got 18 votes, while Ramaotwana could only get 14.
Ezekiel Dube managed to keep his position as Deputy Mayor.
In an election held midweek, a good number of Botswana National Front, Councillors surprised many by defying instructions from party head office to vote Mothei.
Mothei though a Botswana National Front member, is a specially elected by Minister. This has allowed charges of working in cahoots with Botswana Democratic Party to fester on against him.
The Secretary General of the opposition Botswana Congress Party Taolo Lucas said his party did not give any instructions to their councilors on how to vote.
“We are not part of the BNF problems,” said Lucas.
He said the BCP Councilors were free to vote the way they deemed fit.
“We gave them the leeway to vote for whoever they thought was more capable of the BNF two candidates [Mothei and Ramaotwana]. I suppose they thought Mothei more capable and supported him.’
The BNF Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa said they were disappointed because their councilors defied party instructions.
Taolo Lucas said what is important is to realize that the BNF failed to bring order within their ranks.
“They should not blame the BCP. It is BNF tearing itself asunder. How can they have two candidates from within their ranks,” said Lucas.
Although the BNF is quick to accuse the BCP and to a certain extent the ruling Botswana Democratic Party of meddling, observers point out that the fact that Mothei stood against party leadership candidate and went on to win is a sign of much greater problems inside the BNF.
There has been talk of a sinister plot by some members of the Central Committee and Members of Parliament to defy and undermine the authority of party leader Otsweletse Moupo.
“It is important that Moupo cracks the whip to instill discipline,” said one BNF member.