BNF readies for 2016 elective congress

SHARE   |   Monday, 14 September 2015   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
Mohwasa Mohwasa

Botswana National Front (BNF) which is currently enjoying political tranquility after going through turmoil for the better part of its existence will next year go for their elective congress after their sterling performance in the 2014 general elections.

The Patriot on Sunday has it on good authority that intense lobbying has begun for positions in the central committee especially for Vice President, Secretary General and publicity secretary. Sources within BNF have revealed that the party’s cadres are worried at how their political partners Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leaders are taking centre stage while theirs are mostly spectators except for party President Duma Boko and Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa.

Vice Presidency
Currently the position is occupied by Member of Parliament for Tlokweng Same Bathobakae and most BNF members feel that she has not done much to help Boko cement the party’s influence in UDC. Bathobakae who is regarded as a strong willed politician who is not afraid to take on her male counterparts is well known for taking drastic decision even if unpopular.
Popularly known as ‘Kwankwetla’ or iron lady in 2012 when BNF was going through its seasonal turmoil times, she spearheaded a disciplinary hearing committee and suspended some of the party high profile members ahead of the 2009 elections.

A former acting Secretary General of BNF after Boko suspended the Akanyang Magama from the party; Bathobakae is expected to defend her position at the July congress next year. Asked if she will defend her position, Bathobake laughed off and said that it is too early to comment on the issue adding that she has to caucus first.
There is a strong lobby for Reverend Prince Dibeela to challenge her next year as they feel he is the right candidate to compliment Boko. Dibeela who contested Mmathethe/Molapowabojang constituency and lost to Dr Alfred Madigele of Botswana Democratic Party in the 2014 general elections is regarded as calm politician who can bring stability into the party.
A former chairman of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) synod, Dibeela was instrumental in the formation of Umbrella for Democratic Change. He was part of the conveners for opposition and was ultimately voted as the secretary for International Relations for BNF, a position he is currently holding.

Secretary General
The leading candidate for the position is BNF publicity secretary Moeti Mohwasa who is expected not to be challenged as Tapiso Kgosikoma will not contest the position.
Mohwasa popularly  known as ‘Comical Ali’ after the former Iraq minister of Propaganda who defended Saddam Hussein to the bitter end, is expected to cement BNF position in the alliance and match BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole pound for pound. Mohwasa who is known for his defence of party leadership even when the going gets tough is also viewed as holding the right political credentials to take on BDP’s Botsalo Ntuane.

Mohwasa declined to comment whether he is going to stand for the secretary general position noting that it is against the party constitution as it might divide the party. “We have to respect those who are still holding positions because it people start declaring their interest now it might not sit well with those in leadership now,” he said.

Publicity Secretary
This is the position that the party cadres are torn between BNF Youth League Secretary General Arafat Khan and Secretary for Labour Justin Hunyepa. Those who are rooting for Khan believes that the party needs his militancy which they feel are currently missing within the current leadership.

A councilor for Borakalalo ward in Molepolole North, Khan was tipped to challenge Mohwasa in 2013 for the publicity secretary but later withdrew.  An epitome of BNF’s slogan of ‘puo phaa’ Khan is one of the few BNF cadres are not afraid to take the party leadership head-on. He once clashed with party leadership after the BNFYL wanted to invite Economic Freedom Front President Julius Malema to their elective congress while the central committee felt that it will be against their leadership with ANC.

In an interview Khan said that he is currently focusing on improving the livehood of the people of Borakalalo ward and his personal life. Asked if he will consider contesting if approached, the outspoken BNFYL Secretary General said that he will decline as he feels he has done his part in party leadership. “I have been in BNF leadership structures for too long and is high time I give others chance to lead,” he said.

Those who want Hunyepa feels that he has the right experience as the publicity secretary of Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) later becoming its executive secretary and that will come handy for BNF. Since he was appointed secretary for Labour, BNF members feel that it has become active and respond to issues affecting workers.
BNF Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa confirmed that the party will hold its elective congress next year as per dictated by the constitution. “The Party’s politburo will release a writ of elections and that is when people can start to declare their interest but for now it will be wrong for one to declare interest,” said Mohwasa.