BNF youth wing Vice President and mayor of Gaborone City Council (GCC) Kagiso Thutlwe
Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) is running helter skelter as its elective congress fast approaches, all the while determined to steer clear of the ironic Palapye village where its mother party splintered to smithereens 18 years ago.
The BNF youth wing Vice President and mayor of Gaborone City Council (GCC) Kagiso Thutlwe said earlier this week at a press briefing that the youth league has come to formally consider three locations to host its 2016 youth elective congress. He said that they mulled over the villages of Tonota, Mahalapye and Palapye but since the mother party had already indicated that its national congress will be held in Francistown they struck off Tonota as an alternative, owing to its proximity to the city of Francistown where the Botswana National Front (BNF) will be descending in July.
According to Thutlwe, between the two last options of Palapye and Mahalapye they settled for the latter after getting locked in a tough deliberation, in time agreeing that Palapye would only work to legitimise fears of factionalism currently nascent inside the youth league. He added that they view Mahalapye as a neutral location.
“We had a debate over Palapye, of which you all know what happened in 1998. The moment we mention Palapye some of you would conclude that their (camps of candidates’) differences are going to be very high,” Thutlwe revealed.
He also mentioned that the agreement on Malapye as the host town was a unanimous decision and did not come about as a result of a vote and all league members are happy with the resolution.
Mahalapye is also a home town of the party founder, the late Dr Kenneth Koma and the current leader, Duma Boko.
The youth league elective congress will be held on the last week of May from the 27th to the 29th.
Thutlwe further asserted that BNF leaders had implied that the two BNF youth league presidential candidates should find middle ground and craft a compromise entry that will include both men in the league presidium to avoid a probable proliferation of warring factions in the youth wing. At present, they are still awaiting directions from the BNF command on which direction to take, Thutlwe added.
The BNF youth league’s fear of the ill-omened Palapye village is reinforced by detectable spectre of creeping factionalism thick in the air as contenders and their backers start to throw jabs at each other.
Despite the persistent BNF youth leader’s denial of the reality of a factionalised youth wing, the palpable hostile atmosphere suggests otherwise. It is believed the BNF youth wing is torn between former University of Botswana (UB) student leaders Khumoekae Richard and Kago Mokotedi, with the upper executive and the bulk of incumbent league members leaning toward the candidacy of the latter contender. Thutlwe is reported to be gunning for the Secretary General position while the incumbent Information and Publicity Secretary is also reported to be seeking re-election under the Mokotedi undercard.
The BNF youth league is anxiously evading holding its 2016 faction prone elective congress in the same dusty village where its mother party went for congress and came back haemorrhaged by a factional fissure in its 1998 national congress.
After garnering 13 Members of Parliament (MP’s) in a momentous 1994 general election BNF crashed and burned at Palapye a year before the 1999 general election. The bone of contention that triggered the split was the stewardship fashion of its late leader and founder Dr Kenneth Koma who dissolved the party central committee following an aborted national congress. The decamping dissidents formed the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which took away with it 11 of 13 sitting BNF MP’s. Koma was to later be kicked out of the BNF and formed the National Democratic Front (NDF) with support of the current BNF leader, Duma Boko who was the party’s Secretary General.
However, the arc of the political universe has in reality proved to be long and indeed curving toward a political reunion. The NDF which has always been the smallest of BNF splinter parties as well as Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) rejoined the BCP through an electoral pact. The BNF and BCP are also set to reunite and form an opposition party’s coalition through the Umbrella for Democratic Change amalgam, together with the Botswana Peoples Party and Botswana Movement for Democracy.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.