Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) is expected to hold their elective congress this year ahead of the party national congress which is traditionally held in July during the President Holidays.
In an interview with this publication, BNFYL President Velem Heii revealed that they will hold the youth congress either in April or May this year. To this end, BNFYL leadership will hold a meeting which among others, will come up with a date for the congress. "Our congress should be held before the main party congress which is held in July Presidential Holidays. Therefore ours will be either in April or May this year,” he said.
Heii dismissed allegations the BNFYL has failed to advocate for the youth as their regional structures are non-existent, saying they have operational structures in regions and have deployed many of their cadres to contest the 2019 General Elections. Evidence for such, he said, is shown by the entrance into parliament of BNFYL Secretary for Legal Affairs, Yandani Boko, who wrestled the Mahalapye East constituency from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who had made it their strong hold.
Boko, who is currently the youngest legislator in Parliament, won the constituency by 4 323 votes against BDP's Dr Ditshupo Maje who received 3 786 and Lazarus Lekgoanyana of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) who garnered 2 145 votes. Heii added that they also as the BNFYL actively participated in the campaigns for the 2019 elections and that he was deployed by the league to address political rallies and do house to house campaigns.
“I have personally graced many campaign rallies in my capcity as the youth league president. I was delegated by the BNFYL central committee," said Heii.
As an indication that the BNFYL was not dormant, the militant youth league leader said they have been vocal on issues of corruption, education crises and abuse of state resources by the ruling party. As the clock ticks towards the elective congress, Heii called on those who are interested in contesting for positions to exercise patience. “I encourage those who want to contest to wait patiently for the right time rather than to peddle untrue stories about us with the sole intention of tarnishing our committee," he cautioned.
Allegations are abound that the current BNFYL has failed and some youth activists accuse them of trying to buy time by not calling the congress. They also blame the organ leadership of fighting the elder’s battles rather than advancing the interest of the youths. “Currently our youth central committee operates with majority of the co-opted members. Majority of the leaders we voted at Mahalapye congress have since resigned for various reasons. We want to go and vote a new central committee,” said a youth on condition of anonymity.
Some prominent members of the league such as the then President Richard Khumoekae and Secretary General Osenotse Mabote have resigned and joined Alliance for Progressive (AP) and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) respectively. Heii who was voted at Mahalapye congress as Vice President of the youth league ascended the presidency after the resignation of Khumoekae.
He concurred that some party elders are using some of his committee members to fight their battles because they had been working harmoniously only for things to start taking a nasty turn. He appealed to elders to desist from interfering on the affairs of the youth league. He also appealed to the mother body to avail resources to the youth league so that it will operate efficiently and effectively.
Moreover, he challenged the party youth activists to work for the party rather than aligning themselves with factions. Quizzed on whether he is defending his position, he indicated that the youths will decide if they still want him to stand or not.