Perhaps as the clearest admission so far that they are going through the biggest crisis of their life as a party, the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has suspended its annual policy forum, the National Council, which was due to be held this weekend.
This is a result of the ongoing standoff between the party leadership and a faction of the party known as Barata-Phathi.
Over the weekend, the faction met in Mogoditshane where it resolved to form a new political party.
The ruling party’s Central Committee has also ordered MP Botsalo Ntuane, Tawana Moremi, Wynter Mmolotsi, Mmoloki Raletobana, Guma Moyo and Gilbert Mangole, among others, to surrender their BDP membership cards within two days, failing which they will face disciplinary action like any other party member.
“The central committee has, therefore, resolved that organisers of the new break-away party and the convenors of the so-called Barata-Phathi meeting who took part in the unlawful assembly held last Saturday in Mogoditshane (which include six sitting members of Parliament), should surrender their membership cards of the BDP within 48 hours to the main party office in Gaborone,” states a statement from the party secretariat.
The BDP leadership has dismissed the group as self-seeking members who are only interested in their personal ambitions.
This comes after a central committee meeting held yesterday in Gaborone.
The BDP leadership says that it is aware of the disobedience displayed by Barata-Phathi who refused to call off their factional meeting.
According to the BDP, the central committee has managed to go through the resolutions from Barata-Phathi’s meeting and contend that the demands are “outrageous”.
Among other things, the faction had demanded the reinstatement of banished former Secretary General Gomolemo Motswaledi, uplifting of suspensions imposed on Ntuane, Kabo Morwaeng and lawyer Sidney Pilane.
Further the group wants Khama’s government to abandon the proposed alcohol levy and investigate the many cases of extra judicial killings, as well as push for a law on declaration of assets.
“…we have found that the sum total of these demands are simply untenable, outrageous and cannot be met,” the statement reads, in part.
The BDP has also indicated that it has called off its National Council, which was scheduled to be held this weekend, to allow the party leadership to resolve the disturbances hitting the party.
“In the meantime, fellow democrats are informed that the National Council scheduled for this weekend in Gaborone has been postponed by the central committee indefinitely to allow the party leadership to address this situation,” says the BDP.
Meanwhile, information reaching this paper is that the central committee has delegated the party chairman Daniel Kwelagobe and treasurer Satar Dada to meet with Barata-Phathi ring leaders.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Pilane the group’s spokesperson hinted that he was aware Kwelagobe and Dada had been sent to parley and negotiate with his side.
“I am not aware what they are meeting us about but I can confirm that they have been sent to meet with us,” said Pilane.
BDP Executive Secretary, Batlang Serema, was not available for comment by the time of going to press.