April 4 2010: The embattled Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) says although it is open to dialogue, it will not compromise discipline by negotiating with a faction.
The party’s spokesperson, Dr Batlang Serema, said this week that while the party central committee has embraced former President Ketumile Masire’s call for a dialogue, it has nonetheless decided to take disciplinary action against those that attended a factional meeting in Mogoditshane two weeks ago.
“Much as dialogue is appreciated, the central committee is of the view that discipline cannot be compromised,” said Serema.
He said that the central committee was also unanimous in its decision not to negotiate with a faction.
This comes after Barata-Phathi faction appointed five men delegation composed of lawyer Sidney Pilane, MPs Botsalo Ntuane, Tawana Moremi, Wynter Mmolotsi and University of Botswana academic Dr Wilson Tshupeng to represent them following Masire’s announcement that he wanted to reconcile the faction and the party leadership.
“We are open to dialogue and any member of the party is free to approach the president, central committee or any structure,” he added.
He said that the party leadership had resolved that discipline and dialogue should go hand in hand.
He, however, stated that not only is the party leadership opposed to negotiating with a faction, but that it will also not negotiate with those members who have been suspended from its ranks.
Perhaps as a way of showing how steadfast the party is in interpretation of discipline, this week the party Secretary General Thato Kwerepe, swiftly moved to file a complaint before the party’s disciplinary committee against seventeen BDP activists who attended Barata-Phathi’s meeting.
By Friday this week, the party’s secretary to the disciplinary committee Lee Lesetedi was busy notifying MPs and other BDP activists of the charges brought against them.
Kwerepe has complained against MPs Ntuane, Mmolotsi, Moremi, Guma Moyo, Mmoloki Raletobane, and Gilbert Mangole for organising a meeting which he (Kwerepe) states was aimed at embarrassing the party leadership.
“….their conduct was engineered to embarrass the party and cause it irreparable harm…” reads a part of a four paged letter filed before the party’s disciplinary committee.
Also in the list are Barata Phathi ring leaders, Pilane and Morwaeng. The duo, along with Ntuane, are accused of violating the spirit of their suspension from the BDP.
Kwerepe has also included BDP Youth wing chairman Armstrong Dikgafela.
Dikgafela is also a BDP Central Committee man.
The extensive list also includes former councillors Freddy Ramodise, Binkie Kerileng, Francistown region secretary Sam Masunga, Francistown mayor Shadreck Nyeku and UB’s Dr Tshupeng.
In his complaint, Kwerepe says that prior to the meeting, the central committee had communicated that the planned gathering was unlawful adding that this, however, was ignored by the organisers. He says that the organisers deliberately undermined the party’s leadership as the warning which was aired on TV and radio was even communicated to some individual MPs who attended the meeting.
He says that Pilane was quoted as saying the meeting was a gathering of ‘friends’ when in actual fact the whole event was a factional activity.
Kwerepe complains that through their meeting, Barata-Phathi sought to incite party members to turn against the party and its leadership.
Attached to Kwerepe’s complaint are newspaper reports, the BDP’s press statements, Barata-Phathi’s agenda and resolutions taken at the Mogoditshane meeting.
The activists have been urged to respond to the disciplinary committee within 14 days.