The Botswana National Front (BNF) is still a party at war with itself.
And if the situation continues that way, it is likely to affect the performance of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) come 2014, says observers. The UDC is composed of Botswana Democracy Movement (BMD), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and BNF. However, the nation remains hopeful that the cadres may see the voice of reason at the BNF elective congress billed for Gantsi over the President’s Day holidays next month.
The good news though which may help the BNF to regroup is that there is a possibility that BNF and UDC leader, Duma Boko may agree to be UDC candidate and contest the general elections in the Gaborone West North constituency. It said of late delegations have been meeting with Boko requesting him to change his heart and contest because they fear that if he does not there is a possibility of BMD leader and his Deputy at UDC, Gomolemo Motswaledi winning his constituency and taking over in parliament as the leader of opposition and such a move would mean BMD is bigger than BNF.
Political observers are worried that having successfully managed to overcome three forces that at some stage or another weakened BNF being the Concerned group, the Party line, then Temporary platform, the latter which emerged during former President Otsweletse Moupo’s last years as the BNF leader after being elected at the Molepolole congress, appears to be regrouping. The Temporary platform still has two of its members serving in the current Central Committee being Treasurer Aubrey Lesaso and the Secretary for Political Affairs Sam Digwa. It is alleged that just like they did when they sponsored Lesaso, Digwa and others who have since resigned from the Central Committee, they are now part of the group that is sponsoring long time party activist and sympathiser, Dr Elmon Tafa for the position of Vice President. It is said such a move is meant to keep the party president, Duma Boko who will be unopposed at close guard. Some of the comrades allegedly accuse Duma together with his executive for having adopted a soft line during the UDC negotiations for constituency allocation.
The comrades are allegedly unhappy that their executive has allowed the BMD to take control and or be visible in all the towns, but it does not command a great following or support that the BNF has.
It said the comrades fear that this may lead to multitudes of the BNF either not registering for elections in great numbers if not voting for different parties out of anger and frustration, which could consequently weaken the UDC contesting strength as a united force. The observers have also taken the decision by the Information and Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa not to contest for any position at the party’s July elective congress with a pinch of salt. Mohwasa who for a long time has been the pillar of any party president whom he served under has for a long time been under attack from the BNF activists some of who accused him of defending the party leadership including Boko.
The observers gave an example of the latest incident where the BNF Youth League announced that they had invited former ANC youth Leader, Julius Malema. Mohwasa ruled out that possibility from the onset. It said of late those who attacked Mohwasa thought if he succumbs to their pressure then they can easily and successfully democratically oust Boko. Now the comrades allege that just like Moyo Guma who refused to contest for central committee position at BMD and later retraced his steps to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Mohwasa too is likely to do the same and join the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Mohwasa has dismissed such allegations as utter rubbish and said he will stay with BNF as he has already indicated his willingness to contest the general elections in Selibe Phikwe West under the UDC ticket representing the BNF. Political observers close to Mohwasa state that he has stepped down because age allows him to do so and he can still come back to contest for any position at the next elective congress.
It said the comrades believe the Umbrella is fine, but argue that the BNF has conceded many lucrative seats either in towns or peri- urban areas. The observers gave an example that the four seats in the capital city, Gaborone and despite such being traditionally their stronghold, the BNF has only just two in Gaborone North, and South while the rest belong to BMD. However, observers say, although some members of the BNF rank and file are complaining, to their executive, this is a nonstarter. This is so because the executive has always believed in the umbrella as well as being satisfied that the three parties have shared the 57 constituencies on a give and take basis after considering numerous factors among them being the incumbency, representation of all parties countrywide, party’s last general elections performance and visibility of the party in that area.
Based on the above the three parties shared the 57 constituencies as follows: BNF 27, BMD 23, and BPP 7, which are mostly in the northern part of the country except, one in the central district- Serowe North East. Others that BPP has include Tati East and West, Francistown West, Nkange Tonota North and Nata-Gweta.
BMD has been allocated 23 constituencies which include, Gaborone Central, Gaborone West South Gaborone North, Francistown South, Francistown East Lobatse, Kgatleng West, South East South, Maun West, Chobe, Mogoditshane, Okavango, Ngami, Selibe Phikwe East, Molepolole South, Moshupa, Palapye Mahalapye West, Mmadinare, Tswapong North, Boteti South, Kweneng South East, and Serowe South. While BNF got the remaining constituencies.