It is official that UDC leader Duma Boko’s embrace of Botswana’s divisive ex-president Ian Khama is the one major factor to blame for the hopeless performance of the coalition in the just-ended general elections. BNF vice president Reverend Prince Dibeela describes the larger-than-life character that is Boko as a one-man show who scuppered the UDC’s electability by consulting no one and unleashing the ‘Fear Fokol brigade’ on dissenters. As oppossed to Boko, Dibeela has accepted elections results.
Duma Boko is personally to blame for the shameful showing of the Botswana National Front (BNF) in the just-ended general elections, the Vice President of the BNF, Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela, has said.
In Dibeela’s view, it is all thanks to Boko’s individualistic rather than institutionalist outlook.
The BNF is of three parties that make up the coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change, the others being the Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana People’s Party. Boko is president of both the BNF and the UDC.
The BNF performed dismally during Botswana’s elections – the 12th since independence in 1966 – with only four parliamentary seats compared with the BCP’s 11 and ahead only of former president Ian Khama’s newfangled Botswana Patriotic Front’s three and the Alliance for Progressives’ one.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party registered a rousing 38 seats, emphatically defeating the opposition coalition that many political observers had to the last day credited with potential to cause an unprecedented change of government
“If things continue like this, I think the coalition will not survive a few more months,” Dibeela said.
He sees the way the issue of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), a coalition partner that was expelled in October last year, was handled as a major contributing factor to the UDC’s dismal showing. “The way the BMD crisis was handled was very immature and reckless,” Dibeela said.
“Some of us tried to advise but we were shut out and the ‘Fear Fokol brigade’ was sent to attack us. Another shock was when a controversial character like Sydney Pilane’s faction was allowed into the UDC. I always maintained that it was going to add unnecessary baggage. Pilane’s entrance degraded our brand.”
The ‘Fear Fokol brigade’ refers to a band of Boko’s loyalists who made it their purpose to ensure the silencing of his critics and dissenters generally. Boko’s bodyguards form(ed) the nucleus of these brigands.
According to Dibeela, many in the UDC, including the BCP, wanted Pilane and the BMD expelled without delay but Boko dug his heels in and singlehandedly refused. “We tried to call a special congress to debate the na ture of the UDC – whether it was something we were comfortable with or whether we wanted to reframe it but Boko stopped us,” he said. “He was very hostile to all of us who wanted a special congress called. “As though that was not enough, these guys brought Ian Khama in without any conversation, let alone consultation. And when we dared to speak about it, we were rewarded with insults and humiliation. If the UDC is to go forward, it has to create a culture of tolerance and democratic centralism, which means from the bottom up.
“We as the BNF have been very disconnected among ourselves and also disconnected from the president. He kind of almost abandoned the BNF and focused on the UDC project. We had hoped that he would delegate responsibility for the BNF to someone but he did not. For comparison, look at the BCP. They were better organised and their people have done well because they supported each other. We were not able to do that and were like orphans.”
But what kind of leader then would Boko make if the UDC attained power? “A UDC government should not be about Boko but about institutions that have come together and together in a collective culture,” Dibeela answered. “But the way things were going, and in looking at Boko’s style of leadership, it is contrary to that. He is a one-man show.”
In BDP rigging elections
What about the rising clamour of rigging elections by the BDP? “I cannot put it past them because they are immersed in corruption and it is therefore in their interest to stay in power and hide the dirty work,” said Dibeela. “However, though I am very surprised and suspicious, I accept the results of my constituency.”