Boko’s BNF presidency hanging in the balance

Daniel Chida

Duma Boko’s future as leader of the Botswana National Front (BNF) is hanging in the balance, with party veterans and some party members calling on him to resign as President.

In a scathing interview with The Voice, the Deputy Chairperson of BNF Veterans committee, Baalani Phumaphi Basiame, accused Boko of isolating the party from its members.

Basiame even went as far as blaming Boko for the opposition’s defeat.

He revealed a number of BNF members were concerned with some of the events leading up to the elections.

“Boko ran the party alone; it was a one man show. He differed with what we believed in.”

Basiame gave an example of the arrest of former DISS boss, Isaac Kgosi, who they thought was rightfully arrested only for the party to release a statement saying the arrest was politically motivated.

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He added that the BNF is the founder of labour movements and thus it was ‘shocking’ to see workers turning their backs on the party.

He maintained that alone shows the workers were not happy with how things were being run by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), of which BNF is a member and Boko the President.

“Boko saw an important person in the former President Ian Khama who was hostile to workers and indirectly worked with him,” he said, adding there was no way people were going to vote for a UDC which was friendly with Khama because the later has instilled fear in workers.

“We saw corruption grow under his leadership and by working with him it meant isolating UDC working class. Boko cost us elections and we want him to voluntarily step down because if he does not then we will force him to,” warned Basiame.

The BNF veteran gave Boko up to the beginning of next year to consider the ultimatum.

Others are of the view that after two failed general elections, Boko has had his chance and it is now time for a fresh perspective at the top.

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“We know he sacrificed a lot but we cannot keep him for the third time as a reward for his sacrifices,” reflected a BNF insider, who didn’t want to be named for fear of victimisation.

“We need to chart a new path for our movement. We can’t forever be stuck on what could have been; we came close yet so far. In all major competitions, how many people ever remember the runner up?” added the highly placed BNF member.

Unfortunately, efforts to get a comment from Boko failed as he did not respond to our request by the time of going to press.

For his part, BNF Publicity Secretary, Justin Hunyepa maintained that Boko was elected by the party’s statutory body, which is in fact BNF’s highest decision structure.

“All BNF members will have an opportunity to choose the next party leadership, including Presidency, in July next year as it will be the statutory congress. A special congress can also be called earlier if there is need for such – party membership knows this provision and can trigger it anytime.”

He added it was unfortunate that some people were buying into BDP propaganda and innuendos designed to tarnish Boko’s image.

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“Boko remains the best leader for BNF and UDC as he has the leadership credentials to lead these organisations. He is brave, intelligent, decisive and charismatic,” concluded Hunyepa.

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