Confronted by its dwindling political fortunes, one of Botswana’s oldest political parties, the Botswana National Front (BNF) has finally made a move to recoup its lost glory.
The party leadership has engaged on a strong mission to market the BNF and its policies to the people as they have hope that it will yield the required results.
The meetings will also give the BNF leadership a rare opportunity to engage with the people and weigh its actual reception and popularity in the respective areas.
Effective 5th- 16th August 2021 the party’s high-powered delegation will visit nine constituencies of Mahalapye-East, Mahalapye-West, Shoshong, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Learala-Maunatlala, Palapye, Serowe-South, Serowe-West and Serowe North East.
It’s clear that the BNF will leave no stone unturned as it makes a move to redeem its dwindling fortunes ahead of the 2024 general election. The BNF leadership decision comes after the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership made a similar move of touring the whole country and strengthening its structures and recruiting new members after the 2019 general election.The two political parties seem to be bent on tightening all the political loose ends well in time to enable their structures out there in the constituencies to function efficiently.
With well functioning structures out there, the parties will be able to lay proper claims to constituencies and wards when time to share them comes.
Although Boko and Dibeela have been incessantly dogged by controversy relating to their acrimonious campaigns for the party presidency ahead of the party elective congress, the party’s campaigns to resuscitate the ailing structures and ramp up membership drive will seemingly unite the duo.
The party top leadership has finally taken a deliberate move to bring hope to its rank and file that has been frustrated by its (leadership) cold attitude as it watched without action as the BNF fortunes fast faded away.
For many years now, it hasn’t been easy for the party founded in 1965 as its numbers have been on an accelerated downfall in the north. This hasn’t been helped by the party structures that have been as good as non-existent in the wider northern constituencies.
Although the BNF used to be popular and strong in some areas in the north in particular giving the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a run for its money, the party fortunes took a knock post a major split experienced during the infamous Palapye debacle in 1998.
It’s that meeting, which resulted in a major split that culminated with the birth of its splinter party; the BCP and this seemingly reduced the BNF's presence in the north.
It seems the newly formed BCP went away with the party structures and the BNF thereafter dragged its feet to put its house in order. If there were any attempts to rebuild the party's dysfunctional structures, then it didn’t bear fruit.
Prior to the 1998 split, the BNF had during the 1994 general election made history by winning three crucial constituencies in the Okavango, Francistown-West and then Selebi-Phikwe.
Unfortunately, some 11 BNF legislators disgruntled by the leadership of the late Dr. Kenneth Koma would later choose to run away with the party votes to form their own party leaving a void that the BNF leadership took long to fill.
The focus of the BNF has been seemingly on its urban-based constituencies especially south of the Dibete cordon fence where the party has been in control until the last general election in 2019, where the party performed dismally.
The opposition BNF, which is in a coalition partnership under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with its splinter party, the BCP and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) has now decided to cast its political net even wider.
BNF spokesperson, Justin Hunyepa explained this week that the BNF leadership hasn’t neglected the constituencies north of the Dibete cordon fence; rather it is resource constraints that made it difficult for the party to easily spread its wings.
He however conceded: “ You will recall that the north was badly affected by the 1998 split of the BNF and didn’t recover easily. But, the BNF has done relatively well in the recent past as it has some councillors in Mahalapye, Maun, Shashe-West and others.”
Through the impending visits, Hunyepa said the BNF leadership aims to build structures where they have collapsed and recruit new members.
“The campaign will also bring back those members who may have prematurely retired. It will also attract those who had resigned and have since realised that the BNF is the most dynamic and true home for comrades,” he indicated.
He further conceded that the southern part of the country has generally been the BNF stronghold.