The Botswana National Front (BNF) internal fights continue to threaten the peace that the party has been enjoying for quite sometime. At the heart of differences that threaten to divide the party are the preparations for the upcoming congresses.
Just days before the elective congress, the BNF Youth League (BNFYL) at its meeting held on April 26, 2022, resolved to postpone the anticipated Youth League congress. "The congress will now be held at a later date to be announced in due course. It is common knowledge that the central committee has instituted an investigation whose outcome might affect the good standing of the congress. There are also some complaints, which we are currently looking into. The current BNFYL central committee aims to deliver a seamless congress whose outcomes will reflect the wishes of our youth," said Kago Mokotedi, the current BNFYL transition team chairman.
Currently, members who are campaigning for the BNFYL positions have divided themselves among two candidates for party presidency, which are current president Duma Boko and presidential aspirant, Baatlhodi Molatlhegi. The BNFYL plays a major role in the mother body elections as it constitutes some delegates by virtue of being in the youth league.
Historically, over the years, the BNF has never held a peaceful youth league congress as it is always marred with controversy and there is so much interest from external forces including some elders within the party who play an influential role within the youth league teams. In 2016 at the Mahalapye youth congress, there were clashes and some party leaders were even accused of dividing the youth by aligning themselves with one of the lobby groups at the expense of the other.
Even though members then had voted for the structure that was led by Richard Motsabakedi, it never took long in office as some of the team members resigned and in 2020 the party central committee dissolved the youth league as internal fights amongst the youth gave the party sleepless nights. Since then, the BNF has been operating without a youth league committee for a while as it had appointed the delegation, which will be dealing with preparation for the congress and youth issues.
Recently, some members of the youth who are contesting for positions locked out some members of the party at the party office following allegations of rigging elections allegedly by a team which is said to be aligned the current leadership under Boko. “Currently, there is no youth league because it was long dissolved due to youth fights that dominated that committee.
The central committee then resolved to dissolve it. There is a committee, which is organising everything and even an independent body, which will be conducting elections.
The committee will ensure that the elections are free and fair,” Nelson Ramaotwana said in an interview recently. One of the BNF's presidential candidate in the main party elections, Molatlhegi recently wrote: “It is now public knowledge that some people with vested interest in the coming elections of both the BNF Youth League and central committee, in connivance with employees of the BNF, have been undertaking illegal nocturnal activities at the party office.
The latest incident was in the early hours of April 22, 2022, on Friday when this clandestine group was caught red-handed having locked itself inside the party office." He added that the group, which was found in the office between the hours of 11pm-2 am, includes individuals who are running for both the youth league and the central committee elections. Molatlhegi and his team are convinced that the strange activities have to do with the printing of membership cards that are being issued illegally to members who are aligned to the lobby lists that support the current leadership. The letter further states that the plot of the said group is to continue rigging elections as the same happened during women’s league elections. They called for registration to be halted as the exercise is tainting and clearly meant to disenfranchise some party members.
For his part, the BNF spokesperson, Justin Hunyepa said on Friday some members of the central committee met to investigate some of the issues raised by Molatlhegi’s team but they found out that there were no new membership cards that were made. “We would like to confirm that on April 20, 2022, Wednesday the BNF executive committee met and resolved to have the computer system processing the cards shut down and should not be accessed by anyone until the youth congress is over.
This has been effected by a private consultant and no one has since accessed the card-processing platform since Wednesday. This means that no new membership forms are being captured; no new cards are being printed,” he said. He also said the employees at the office were printing t-shirts and they presented the equipment they were using, and the printed t-shirts before the complainants and the central committee members present.