The unsavory political scenes unfolding at Botswana National Front (BNF) are nothing but symptoms of endemic disease. The party has been on a sickbed for decades. Actually, BNF can be called the ‘sickman’ of Botswana politics. But having said that, there is something about the BNF and the Easter. For some reason, they always find something to fight over, at Easter. The factional scenes at display at BNF offices are, but a carry-on from the just ended Easter holidays. It is the same way, the BNF ‘commemorated’ the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter of 1998 in Palapye. It was a scheduled Special Congress of the BNF and ended as insults, molotov cocktails, flying chairs, broken limbs and bloody floors. The political profoundness of this incident came to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of the BNF’s ‘Last Supper.’ In Jesus Christ’s words, it was the last “meal with you before my suffering begins”.

The ‘Battle of Palapye,’ as the rumpus came to be known, was the beginning of the end of the BNF as a formidable political opponent. It is an injury that the BNF was never to recover from, hence the ongoing political fracas between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando and BNF president, Duma Boko cannot be taken for granted. However, for the BNF, it is déjà vu and a picture-perfect portrait of the outcome of the 1997 Ledumang Congress of the BNF where the Michael Dingake faction (read as BCP) won overwhelmingly against the Klass Motshidisi group (read as BNF). The continued fierce fighting between the Central Committee led by Dingake (which included the current Minister of Presidential Affairs, Kabo Morwaeng) and the “Concerned Group” commanded by Motshidisi metamorphosed into a BNF split that gave birth to Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in July 1998.

This chronic affliction took a turn for the worst in the mid-1980s when Dr. Kenneth Koma built a formidable personality cult around himself to which dissent became tantamount to disrespect. The personality cult politics has come to haunt the BNF, leading to another fragmentation in 2003. This followed the outcome of the 2001 Kanye Congress where the Otsweletse Moupo faction defeated the Koma-backed Peter Woto camp. Following their embarrassing defaeat, Koma and his followers, the Party-Liners (read as Komanists) went on to form New Democratic Front (NDF) in 2003. In its existence, the BNF has given birth to multiple offsprings. Just in the period between 1993 and 1994, it gave birth to four of the five new political parties that were formed.

Therefore, at the heart of the eternal strife in the BNF is not its ideological posture but a clash of philosophies and personalities between the Komanists or Party-Liners and “Reformists.” These sharp divisions became pronounced in 2019 when the Komanists, under the guidance of a brilliant Harvard graduate, unilaterally sought some form of political affirmation from Ian Khama and his Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). This move was perceived by some in the BNF, including Boko’s deputy, Reverend Mpho Dibeela, as a function of latent ethnic hegemonic interests by both Boko and Khama. In my sober opinion, there is very little doubt that the BNF is broken. And this is not surprising. Actually, it is a logical conclusion for anything that is driven by wisdom of the mob (Mafearfokol); where a thousand fools make a genius. Instead of taking time to define its direction and purpose post-2019 elections, the know-it-all BNF leadership put on risky political stunts of trying to bring every ‘opposition’ organisation into its fold, including even ‘social clubs’ like Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).