Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL) president, Tlhabologo Furniture has accused Botswana National Front (BNF) activists who operate under the guise of the fearfokol tagline for bullying the BCP out of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition.
Furniture is adamant that BNF activist, Arafat Khan and others use the fearfokol tagline for their radicalism to portray the BCP as a party that is unwilling to stick to its coalition vows. His position this week was that he was not going to succumb to intimidation and bullying from Khan and company.
He was actually irked by comments made by Khan in a recent interview by Mmegi in which he (Khan) portrayed the BCP and its leader, Dumelang Saleshando as people who are not sincere in their coalition commitment.
Furniture insisted that things are not going on well at the opposition tri-party coalition comprising the BNF, BCP and the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). He however, called upon the coalition partners to help the UDC partnership to work.
“I think the most important thing is that things are not going on well in the coalition. We find ourselves as the BCP with our backs pushed against the wall by this fearfokol crew that is hell-bent on derailing the coalition project,” insisted Furniture.
The BCPYL president denied reports that his party was mooting the notion of abandoning the coalition project.
Furniture was quick to cite the recent occurrence at the University of Botswana (UB) student representative council (SRC) elections where the BNF Mass or ‘Moono wa Baithuti’ ditched his team at UB and cooperated with UB Progressives, who are youth from the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Furniture comes out strongly that his party was not contemplating any divorce from the UDC; “because we have invested a lot in this political marriage. This (coalition) is not a BNF or fearfokol thing, it’s the people’s project or a call from swing voters/symapathisers who are not necessarily members of any political party.”
He was particularly worried by visible hatred which he attributes to the failure of the BNF to deliver the 37 constituencies it had allocated itself in the 2019 general election and only managed to win just four seats and would later suffer the loss of two MPs to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
On the other hand, he says, his party was allocated 17 constituencies and managed to deliver 11 which he terms “a great achievement”.
“But, I can tell you, in 2014, a similar thing happened to the BNF after they won seven seats whilst the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) had eight. The big brother mentality was still there which made it difficult for the then marriage to survive,” he reminisced.
Furniture is concerned about “the UDC being in an endless state of emergency since 2011. Look, the party constitution has long been suspended deliberately. The BNF is adamant that we should operate through a compromise and not hold the requisite leadership elections, which is not on at all.”
Furniture suggests that a remedy to the current differences in the UDC coalition is to see the Umbrella individual parties disbanding in favour of a total merger as that is where the future lies.
In fact, he says it was the UDC president, Duma Boko who had suggested in 2019 at the Baisago UDC congress that after the 2019 general election, Umbrella was going to disband and form a new single entity.
“We ought to have one party and avert unnecessary fights that continue to reverse and threaten our gains as the opposition collective,” emphasised the youth leader.
Whilst there is loud noise in the UDC that the BCP is preparing to exit the UDC, Furniture rubbishes such suggestions insisting that their position as the party’s youth is bold enough that they are not going anywhere.
His explanation of the tour currently undertaken by Saleshando is that, the BCP has a mandate to run its business other than that of the UDC.
He is adamant that the BNF has to watch and deal with loose cannons who use the fearfokol tagline as they are very destructive and counterproductive.
“They operate like agents of the BDP and they don’t want to see progress in the opposition ranks. They also tend to worship the BNF president, Boko too much and they can’t show him his weaknesses,” he said.
His greatest concern is that the UDC practises dictatorship as elections are considered to be a threat to democracy instead of the other way round.
The BCP youth want to elect a new UDC leadership according to the UDC constitution and they are not particularly targeting any one leader but the people should be allowed to decide.
The position of the BCPYL is known by the parent party and they (youth) are hopeful their concerns about the UDC setup will be taken to the bigger platform at the UDC national executive committee.