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‘BNF want to destroy us!’

FIRING BACK: Ishmael Jackson Koko
FIRING BACK: Ishmael Jackson Koko

BCP young turk fires back in UDC war

Following last week’s fiery feature, in which BNF’s Arafat Khan slammed what he termed ‘the toxic BCP’, we give the boys in lime a chance to respond.

Since Khan’s hard-hitting interview, tensions between the Umbrella’s leading parties have escalated further, with BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando a notable absentee from Monday’s Press Conference addressed by UDC President, Duma Boko.

The BCP had asked for the Presser to be postponed – a request the UDC NEC flatly refused.

Seeking a youthful perspective on the opposition’s woes, The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA caught up with vocal BCPYL Publicity Secretary, Ishmael Jackson Koko, who, as ever, had much to say…..

What is the status of the BCP’s Youth League?

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We were elected in 2019 and we are all but in our last lap. Of the seven elected in the NEC, three resigned for different reasons, political and apolitical.

We have, however, co-opted other vibrant youth activists in the structure in lieu with the constitution and we will be releasing a statement soon to announce them.

Our mandate has a life span of three years. So next year, Covid permitting, we should be vacating office and facilitating a Congress.

What has the committee achieved?

To be blunt, we have not performed to our expectations, thanks in large parts to the Coronavirus pandemic and resignations of key members of the committee, most notable the SG.

However, we managed to elect Regional Youth Structures in six BCP regions including North West. Our objective was to have elected them in all 14 regions.

Also, we hosted the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) seminar – we are the first youth league to facilitate such an auspicious event which featured youths from leftist political organisations from as far as Eastern Europe.

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Under our leadership, seven youths candidates were elected into council, a number we hope will quadruple in 2024.

Tensions in the UDC, particularly between BCP and BNF, seem to be rising with each passing week – what’s the problem?

The problem stems from the infamous 1998 Palapye debacle. The wounds of that regrettable event are as visceral as the wounds of apartheid to black South Africans.

BNF and BCP can’t cordially work together unless the latter surrenders to the former’s bullying.

Even pre 2019 the divisions were there, it’s just that the BCP opted not to miss the forest for the trees and focused on its allocated constituencies, ignoring the BNF’s vexing entitlement.

You may recall the holy war that ensued when BCP respectfully pleaded to be allocated Gaborone Central, one out of the five constituencies in the city.

The same BNF had no reservations donating three Gaborone constituencies to a BDP offspring [BMD] in 2014 but freaked out when having to donate one to BCP, a constituency the BCP was numerically superior at!

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The BNF’s objective since 1998 has invariably been to destroy the BCP. They have had to cringe and squirm as that break away party which they didn’t expect to survive post 1999 grew in both political relevance and popularity to be the biggest opposition in the country and the most stable. For opposition politics to progress, one of these parties has to perish. The opposition space is too limited for both of them to share!

What do you say to BNF members who feel Saleshando was finished and that Boko actually resurrected his political career by bringing him into the UDC?

I wish Boko had not been that ‘selfless’ and allowed BCP to die outside the UDC. I’m one of the few who diametrically believes the BCP would have fared much better in the 2019 polls had it stayed outside the coalition.

Sidney Pilane was still coming to destroy BMD, Mokgweetsi Masisi was still going to fall out with Ian Khama and the BDP grip at Central district was still going to loosen to the BCP’s advantage!

To answer your question, Saleshando is arguably the best politician in the country and one of the best legislators this country has ever produced.

He was returning to parliament, whether within or outside the UDC. His victory margin offsets that of Kgosi Tawana at Maun West; his opponent has even relocated to Maun East as he is aware that toppling the BCP leader is an impossible task. That should explain the type of political giant he is.

How do you resurrect the political career of an MP who was named the best at the 9th and 2nd best at the 10th Parliament? His parliamentary resume was enough to resurrect him.

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Moving on, why was your request to postpone this week’s presser overlooked?

It means the divisions are no longer being concealed from the public. The horse has bolted. What happened on Monday is a precursor of hell to come.

So what model do you think can work for opposition?

Total unity calls for inclusion of all opposition parties, including the Radical RAP – and that is what the BCPYL supports.

But due to geographical strength, the BPF has emerged as a natural ally for the BCP.

A combination of BCP and BPF will extinct the BDP at the North rendering Domi reliant on the unpredictable South.

If by Satan’s will total unity fails, that is a partnership the BCPYL advises the BCP to pursue.

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Looking at the current situation, if things don’t change do you see this coalition working?

Hell no!

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