Expelled BNF stalwart, Ntime opens up about life in political wilderness
The expelled Botswana National Front (BNF), Lemogang Ntime has revealed this week that he would fight the BNF leadership to the bitter end. Speaking in an interview this week, Ntime said the recently held congress was wrong to endorse the Umbrella model, an opposition unity model between the BNF, BMD and BPP expected to be launched around July this year. The Voice caught up with him at his house in Gaborone on Wednesday morning and below is what he said.
Q. How have you been after being expelled from a party you have been a member for more than 50 years?
Nothing has changed so far in my life. The expulsion has not touched me or made me different from what I have been prior to the action.
Q. Does that mean you have been expecting the expulsion?
It did not catch me by surprise because internal contradictions within the party, particularly between myself and the other comrades have been so sharp. In fact they had reached irreconcilable state. So I expected anything to happen, more especially that we have been deemed by the current leadership as an impediment towards their personal selfish ends.
Q. The current party leadership says you were in fact fighting the party. The contention is that it was the BNF congress that gave the leadership mandate to discuss and form a coalition with other opposition parties?
That was a perpetual lie and a fabrication of what was given to them by the Mochudi congress. I personally participated in that congress and the mandate was, “go and negotiate with other opposition parties on possible electoral corporation to the 2014 general elections. But we should not, in doing that, sell the soul of the BNF.”
Q. So what are your fears in as far as the Umbrella is concerned?
The model. The type of model called Umbrella is full of contradictions and we have warned them that it is chaotic and it aims at doing away with individual parties. In other words it will indirectly dissolve the participating parties because their existence can be guaranteed under condition that they participate in an electoral process. The Umbrella aims at creating a new political entity in Botswana.
Q. So what is wrong with that ? Isn’t it true that after the Umbrella, all parties involved would have representatives both at Parliament and Local government?
No, they will represent a party called Umbrella because that would be the party they contested under. Most of us if not all have joined a political entity called the BNF and not any other party whose political programme and constitution are yet known to us. That was the message we were putting across, so that the general BNF membership would know that their party would no longer be participating in electoral process of the country. That was the process we could not accept. Umbrella would swallow BNF.
Q. I see, but it is the BNF membership who endorsed the Umbrella at the just ended special congress. What do you say to that?
It is a question of who those BNF members you are talking of are. When preparing for a congress, structures and general membership should be given reasonable time to prepare for what the congress would be held about. In this case, that was not done because the current leader appears to be somewhat someone who claims to know it all, a charlatan. He did not disclose the agenda of the congress. All that was announced was that the congress was to deal with the current party situation and one could only wonder what the situation was.
Q. So are you suggesting that people were ambushed and forced to discuss whatever was put before them at the congress?
It was a factional congress. Most of the delegates were lobbied by Boko faction. They were not procedurally appointed at ward and regional level. If you journalists were to investigate how the congress preparations were done, you would discover that many wards did not take part.
Q. We were told a delegation of 2000 people attended the congress. What is your say?
It was an extremely exaggerated number. It is surprising that the BNF have easily achieved a historic delegation of 2000 when many people were absent, including resigned central committee members. Obviously the women’s wing did not send a complete delegation and fraternal friends from other countries were not in attendance.
Q. It is interesting to hear you talk this way about Boko, the man you backed and elected to be the President of BNF, two years ago. When did you discover that he was a “Charlatan”?
Weeks after I helped elect him into office. In fact it was not more than three months that I realized that it was a terrible mistake on my part to have believed those comrades who claimed to have had full knowledge of who Boko was. When I discovered that he was not the man he claimed to be, I lost all hope and I regret what I have done because I helped in bringing chaos to the BNF through this man.
Q. Rumours abound that you may join the ruling party, just like your son, Kagiso Ntime.
In a democracy, everyone is entitled to guessing and speculating. What I can tell you is that at the present moment I am still in the BNF and fighting the battle of a dying horse. I have not made any decision regarding where I would want to be next. In politics you can never say never. Where I chose to go would depend on political dynamics. I am not saying I would join the BDP or BCP or form a new formation. At the present moment I would be making sure that justice is done. We are exploring the legal route. There is no way BNF can adopt Umbrella without changing its constitution first. The BNF is a front and other parties are supposed to join it as group members.
Q. But you are not a BNF member any more and you cannot take BNF to court for making decision that suite them.
Not every BNF member is happy with the congress decision and I need not necessarily become an applicant. The BNF members would take the party to court and we have already engaged a lawyer. It would not be Gabriel Kanjabanga. The Umbrella is just a political joke.
Q. Who do you think would be the biggest loser of the 2014 general elections?
The contest is between BDP and BCP. I cannot talk about BMD because it is a new party. I cannot be too over optimistic about a future of a break away party from a mother-body of a big party like BDP. It would grow over time because the political dynamics are likely to create a situation whereby before the general elections many may have returned to their mother-body.
For the BDP, 2014 general elections would be an ever landslide victory. There is likely to be a sorry state of affairs at the end of the political journey if no wisdom prevails at the BNF. If what is happening is allowed to go on, that would be the end of the political route of BNF. If the BCP does its level best in administering their political affairs, they may be looked at as an only alternative party that has the political plight of the people at heart.