20 July 2005

Botswana: Bnf Congress Buries Party Faction

The outcome of the weekend's Botswana National Front (BNF) elections appears to have driven the final nails into the political coffins of the party's former vice president Kopano Lekoma and his associates.

In the run-up to the congress, Lekoma and his allies had acrimoniously complained of the devious strategies to "shut out some targeted individuals from the central committee". They called for the use of the "lobby list" as opposed to "nomination list" and rejected the constitutional amendments aimed at downsizing the central committee from 29 to 18 portfolios.

The demise of Lekoma's grouping was, however, to be premised on how the general membership or congress was to handle these contentious issues. For a start, the congress reportedly accepted the nomination list but allowed those seeking nomination from the floor to do so.

That arrangement had been a pet demand by Lekoma and the leader of the party youth league Gabriel Kanjambanga. Lekoma and Kanjambanga wanted to contest the presidency and vice-presidency respectively. Those inside the congress hall said the general party membership were repeatedly requested to first nominate Lekoma for the presidency, but "there was literally no movement from the floor. Not a single person nominated him". A few moments later, Kanjambanga's effort also met a similar fate.

Lekoma, though, had a second chance to take a shot at the vice presidency on which he was slated on the initial nomination list. But his walk on this platform was not an easy one. He was pitted against respected University of Botswana (UB) academic, Kathleen Letshabo and maverick former Gaborone North MP, Michael Mzwinila.

Having lost the nomination tussle, the last salvation for Lekoma's group lay in convincing the congress not to agree to the amendment of the constitution. As things turned out, the congress overwhelmingly agreed to streamline the executive committee from 29 to 18. This second development appears to have sealed the fate of Lekoma and his group, and this is clearly evident from the results of the ensuing elections.

By Monday when the actual casting of votes started five positions were uncontested, namely president (Otsweletse Moupo), secretary general (Akanyang Magama), treasurer (Obakeng Moumakwa), organising secretary (Isaac Mabiletsa), and health and social welfare secretary (Nomsa Sebataladi).

In the race for the vice presidency, Letshabo proved to be no match for her opponents. She clinched 761 votes to Mzwinila 's paltry 166 and Lekoma's 39. Mohommed Khan beat Abigail Mogalakwe 666 votes to 297 for deputy secretary general; while in the race for the national chairmanship, Nehemiah Modubule (525) humbled Kebadire Kalake (403) and Keetla Masogo (32).

Elmon Tafa beat Moses Bantsi by 763 to 195 for the portfolio of political education secretary. Gabatsoswe Lebitsa romped home with 718 votess against F.T. Kgosikoma's 140 and Joper Osupile's 93 for the labour secretary's portfolio. The race for economic affairs' secretary went to John Disele with 654 votes against M.B. Seepe's 296. Publicity and information secretary went to Moeti Mohwasa with 653 votes against Keineetse Keineetse's 296. Monageng Mogalakwe beat Paul Mosimanegape with 671 votes to 277 for international affairs' secretary.

The secretaries for women's affairs and youth, and three additional members to be appointed by the party president will also join the new central committee.

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