- Some youths protest outside party office

The fight for the soul of the Botswana National Front (BNF) is now threatening to plunge the party into chaos ahead of the Youth League elections slated for this weekend in Letlhakeng.

Although the contesting young leaders for this weekend's showdown are Resego Kgosidintsi of Team Revival and Carter Joseph of Team Unity, the prelude to the bigger party congress in July is already marred by controversy sponsored by the tussle between the party's presidential candidates, incumbent Advocate Duma Boko and challenger Dr Baatlhodi Molatlhegi, otherwise known as Bucs.

It is common knowledge now that Team Revival is seen to be pro Boko while Team Unity sympathises with challenger Molatlhegi, and last week, confusion reigned as those associated with Kgosidintsi and Boko were accused of irregularities at the party office, where they were alleged to be printing membership cards to tilt the tie towards their team. The were reportedly caught red-handed by the enemy camp, although party leadership has rubbished the claims. Chaos erupted again this past Monday when some BNF youths alleged to be sympathetic to Molatlhegi and Joseph's teams held placards outside the party office, protesting against what they deem unfair treatment of their candidates by the current leadership. Rash Sedimo, the campaign manager for Team Unity and sympathiser of Molatlhegi is already calling for the postponement of the youth league congress.

Sedimo confirms that their call for postponement follows the suspicious incident in which scores of party activists alleged to be on the side of Boko and his preferred youth team were found in the party office at around 3am in the morning of last Friday alleged to have been printing cards.

The BNF had by then suspended the registration of new members to give itself a chance to complete the voters’ rolls ahead of the party YL congress. Desperate for a win, it is suspected that the culprits were in the office secretly registering new members.

The official BNF position was that the nocturnal activity had nothing to do with membership cards. In an interview with The Midweek Sun this week, Sedimo said that he is certain that the culprits were printing membership cards and not t-shirts.

“The claim that it was the t-shirts being printed and not membership cards is ridiculous because t-shirts are never printed in the office, while membership cards are. The culprits knew that what they were doing was illegal and that is why the whole thing was done at night. The fact that they locked themselves inside the office and tried to run away when apprehended also speaks volumes. The activity was clearly intended to facilitate rigging of the BNFYL congress elections in aid of those aligned to the incumbent party president,” explained the campaign manager, who explained that among the group purporting to have come for the printing of t-shirts, were people from Mahalapye with the personal details of new party recruits in need of party membership cards, not t-shirts.

Some of these people had just had their cards done and had them in their pockets,” said Sedimo. He also explained that the results of the youth league congress was critical for both Boko and Molatlhegi because the winners will be able to influence the outcome of the national congress in July.

“Those responsible for the shenanigans are an embarrassment to the BNF. Our position as Molatlhegi’s lobby is that the BNFYL should be postponed because the seriousness of this matter calls for a thorough investigation. Meanwhile, an immediate suspension of the office staff and the postponement of the congress are in order to allow the party to deal with this problem once and for all,“ noted Sedimo.

His position is that the meddling in the party leadership contest by the BNF office has rendered itself unqualified to conduct any free and fair election. “We do not trust the office staff anymore hence we call upon the central committee to engage an independent body to run our elections. This should start with the BNFYL,” he stated, further adding that such shenanigans leaves the BNF without any moral authority to criticise the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for any wrongdoing in its running of the general elections which it has been winning since 1965.

Meanwhile, a BNF cadre who attended the Women’s League at Thamaga recently noted that as long as some of the old office staff remains in office, the BNF elections would always be controversial. He observed that there was cheating in Thamaga but the party leadership did not want to see nor hear any evil. “It is the office staff which determines who wins,” said the anonymous lady.

According to the Publicity Secretary, Justice Hunyepa, the three auxiliary organs of the BNF namely, Veteran Association, the Women’s League and the Youth League, have got their own constitutions and hence autonomous from the mother-body. “It is up to them to decide whether to postpone the event or not. By the way, the party has constituted a task force to investigate the whole issue. Let us wait for the investigations,” Hunyepa said.