November 26, 2001

BOTSWANA: New leader of the oppositional Botswana National Front

Otsweletse Moupo and his ‚Concerned' faction of the Botswana National Front (BNF) won a resounding victory at the BNF Congress, held at the weekend of November 24 and 25 in Kanye, defeating all the candidates in the rival group lobby list led Peter Woto. All the 26 positions contested were won by Moupo's group, with Woto's Party Line Group emerging without a single seat. The position of Vice President went to Conference Lekoma, who defeated Gaborone based attorney Dick Bayford. The position of national chairman went to Mr Klaas Motshidisi, who beat another party veteran Lemogang Ntime by 553 votes to 421.

The new central committee is expected to lead the party until the coming General elections scheduled for 2004. In his acceptance speech Moupo said his priorities include among other things rebuilding the structures of the party, most of which, he said have become defunct. He also said he would instil some discipline which he observed is at its lowest ebb in the history of the party. He said he will not tolerate indiscipline from members of the party, including from those who helped him to the presidency.

Earlier on when opening the congress the long time party leader and founder Dr Koma implored his followers to remain united. Koma said while there will always be differences in a dynamic organisation like the BNF, it is important that such differences are never allowed to derail members from their common purpose. He said he was worried by the level of disunity that has pervaded the Botswana National Front, as demonstrated by some constituencies that sent two delegations to the congress because they could not agree on who to send.

In a first comment to the results of the elections, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) says it is "regrettable" that the opposition BNF remains as polarised as ever. The executive Secretary of BDP, Mr Botsalo Ntuane, said the line-up of the new committee is testimony to the deep polarity that still bedevils the BNF. "The feud is still there. All those who won are members of the Concerned Group and the Party Liners have been completely shattered. That cannot be a recipe for peace and harmony. It is a clear illustration of division," said Ntuane. (THE BOTSWANA GAZETTE)

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