- Losing bye- elections- blessing in disguise
- BCP Voted against the Umbrella
- Umbrella is ready for 2014
Botswana National Front Publicity Secretary, Moeti Mohwasa says losing Lenganeng ward to the Botswana Democratic Party over the weekend was a blessing in disguise for opposition unity model, known as the Umbrella because it served as a wake up call and provided a moment of introspection.
Mohwasa a die hard BNF member who became a political activist at a tender age of 13 and served as the party mouth piece for the past seven years spoke to FRANCINAH BAAITSE about how the Umbrella was gearing up to bring challenge to the ruling Botswana Democratic party in the 2014 general elections.
It must be a difficult job having to defend the party every day from negative publicity. How do you survive the heat?
It is not a difficult job. I draw inspiration from party decisions. I have never taken a position that is anti-party. If you always take a position which is informed by party decisions you will never have sleepless nights. Even when some people make all the noise in radios and newspapers, I am unmoved because I know the people that I am accountable to are the BNF members. So I never do anything to try and impress anyone.
But I heard that these days you speak to impress the party President, Duma Boko.
We happen to be in the same leadership with Boko and we share the same ideals. People have said that Boko has fired people. He has not fired a single person. The people who were in the same leadership with Boko at the time initiated the sacking of the Ntimes.
There was nothing wrong with that, but what I am saying is that people should not now disown decisions that were jointly made by the party.
Are you paid for this job?
No. I am not paid for the job. I don’t even get an allowance. I don’t get anything from the party financially, not even for my travel. I have been travelling here from Phikwe to do party work, but I sponsor the trips from my pocket.
So what is in it for you?
It is about what I believe in. I believe in the constitution of the BNF and I believe in what BNF stands for.
I understand that your Party is in deep financial trouble because it cannot access its bank account following the suspension of some of its central committee members who happened to be signatories. What is your comment?
We are not in any financial crises. Of course there is an issue of transition because suspended members of the party are not allowed to participate in party activities including authorising funds. At the time there is only one signatory but that is not a crises. The situation will be rectified very soon.
How come then that the party leader, Duma Boko sponsored the Mahalapye Congress from his personal account if BNF does not have financial problems?
Boko did not sponsor the Congress but the people of Mahalapye where the special congress was held did. They made pledges and bought the food and again you have to understand that for members to register at the congress they have to pay. So some of the money was raised through registration.
In the last two months, BNF lost three Members of Parliament (MPs), a Councillor and many other members to other parties. How does that make you feel?
In 1998, we lost 11 MPs and the BCP took the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament. We were left with two MPs but we were able to bounce back. The problem that we have right now is that people attach a lot
of importance to MPs. Of course they are important but when they stand in front of a ballot box and vote, their vote is not more important than that of other voters.
To us it was not a crisis. To me it was the realignment of forces.
Those whose commitment into unseating the BDP (ruling party) was questionable could not associate with the Umbrella for obvious reasons, but those who believe in the Umbrella are still with us and will work hard to ensure its victory in the coming general elections.
Speaking of elections and Umbrella reminds one of the Lenganeng by-elections over the weekend. The joint opposition lost again to the BDP. What does it tell you?
I think it is a blessing in disguise to the Umbrella because from now on going forward we will retrospect as the Umbrella collective. What is happening is that there is an entity somewhere up there, which is a signatory to a memorandum of understanding with the Umbrella that has given votes to the BDP because this entity is anti Umbrella. It can only tolerate itself or the BDP. That is the problem we were facing. I think this is a wake up call for us. We gave them the benefit of the doubt in Mokoboxane by-election and again in Tlokweng (Lenganeng ward) but it is evident that the BCP did not vote for BNF in all these elections.
So that was the Problem?
Yes. But at the end of the day we have decided that we are doing away with the MoA (Memorandum of Understanding between BNF, Botswana Movement For Democracy, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana People’s Party) because we realized that BCP are not reliable and trust worthy. MoA was an agreement between the opposition parties to unite against the BDP in any primary elections ahead of 2014.
Tlokweng is a BNF stronghold and one would have thought that a joint opposition stood a better chance to win.
The last general elections were a three-horse race and this was a two horse race, but the other horse chose to back the other, so it was not an easy race.
But don’t you think that the margin of 14 votes would have been closed if the BMD and BCP youth leagues were not away holding congresses during the day of elections?
No, I don’t think so. I don’t think the BMD youth who were eligible to vote could have counted up to 14.
What proof do you have that BCP did not vote for BNF because during elections everyone cast a secret ballot?
We know. We have been reliably told that they did not.
What would be your reaction to people who say BNF may come back from 2014 general elections without a single MP?
I would say they should give us evidence. Those people are saying all sorts of things. Some are saying that the BMD may not even leave to see the next general elections and some are saying the BNF is dead. If you carry out the survey, you would realise that the competition for 2014 general elections is between the BDP and Umbrella. We are talking of an animal, which has proven that it is in competition even before it is launched.
So are you saying that BCP is not a threat to opposition potential votes?
BCP is not going to be a factor. BCP is all show, it is more like a bubble. It won’t sustain the firebrand that the Umbrella has.
The outcome of the 2014 elections is sure to be full of surprises I guess.
Yes. We are looking at launching the Umbrella, hopefully by the end of August this year. We are not rushing this because we want to have input of the people. We are still looking at the constitution, policies and constituency allocation.
They are still with our structures because we do not want to present a constitution that present what the people do not want with the Umbrella. Policies are circulating among our members for input. What the BNF has also done is decided to set up teams that will go to the regions and sell the Umbrella. We also have a team that will lead the campaign in the coming by-election in Francistown (Monarch ward).
All right then. Tell us about your ambition. Are we likely to see you contest again for a Parliamentary seat in Selibi-Phikwe?
I am a resident of Phikwe and secondly it is the residents of Selibi-Phikwe, the BNF membership and the Umbrella who will decide whether they want me to represent the Umbrella during the 2014 general elections or not.