The Response To The BCPYL call for Boko’s Head is Indicative of a Culture of Intolerance Towards Dissent and We should Be Concerned

The Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL) in a statement that has since been retracted called for Duma Boko to give up the presidency of the Umbrella for Democratic Chance (UDC). The reaction to their position was met with vitriol by members of the Botswana National Front, being Boko’s political clansmen. On Tuesday 20 January 2020, the President of BCPYL fumbled his through an interview with Kealeboga Dihutso trying to explain the reversal. All in all, the aftermath of the retracted statement was indicative of the problems that beleaguer the UDC and the hypocrisy within the UDC ranks.

For the last eight years, Boko has been rendered an almost mystical omnipotent being which neither the UDC or the BNF can’t do without. Any dissent against him has been met with anger by the members of the BNF and it is quite understandable considering the constitution of the UDC. His image has been raised to that of the messiah. Any word against Boko amounts to blasphemy and such cannot escape the wrath of his worshippers. Such is the cloth of invisibility that the BNF collective within the UDC have clothed him.

What I find fascinating about the BNF’s reaction to the BCPYL statement is that it is not a response to any reasons advanced by the BCPYL but a move to stifle speech. The response of the Boko brigade of followers hasn’t been, by all measures, hypocritical in the sense that they are doing everything they accused Khama of doing; stifling freedom of speech. The Boko brigade is of course entitled to come to his defence however, if that entails curtailment of speech then it flies in the face of all the UDC or BNF has said it stands for.

The case for the resignation of Boko, methinks, lies in his words of judgement towards the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Boko and the UDC have argued that the BDP has set goals in its manifestos and subsequent policies in government and failed to deliver on them. As a consequence, as the argument goes, the BDP should be removed from power for their failure. In the last two elections, Boko as the President of the UDC was tasked with leading the party to electoral victory. If the logic of the UDC’s argument is to be followed then Boko has to make way for a new leader to lead the UDC. This is not to say he added no value to the UDC but to say the ultimate goal was not met, twice.

The foregoing is just the tip of the iceberg as it concerns the UDC. The problem with the UDC lies in the battle for supremacy by the constituent parties. The superiority complex that attaches to each of the parties means the UDC is a house of cards which may collapse at any given moment. Public debate surrounding the allocation of constituencies is indicative of this battle for supremacy. To add fuel to this Molotov cocktail, there is a degree of distrust between the BNF and the BCP. One would recall that in 2014, the BCP rejected the opportunity to join the UDC. When the BCP joined the UDC subsequently, there has been scepticism over the BCP’s commitment to the UDC. So, when the BCPYL released its statement, an old fire was reignited.

Whether the BCPYL was right or wrong in releasing its statement is subject to debate. However, the response to the statement by the BNFYL and Boko’s supporters in general should be a cause for concern. We should be concerned when dissent is stifled within political organizations. It is indicative of bigger problems that might befall the country when such leaders have state power. Khama was a cautionary tale.

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