Wednesday, June 23, 2021

BPF experiencing Central Committee-membership problem BCP had to deal with

At least one very important member of the Botswana Patriotic Front is greatly displeased with General Ian Khama’s membership of his party’s Central Committee. That revelation is made in a letter written by BPF’s Secretary General, Tshekedi Khama, to all regional chairpersons.

The letter says that “Party President Patriot” Reverend Biggie Butale flew into a rage when requested to leave a meeting room in order that other members of the National Executive Committee (commonly known as Central Committee) could decide the matter of his sexual misconduct with a female student at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN). In refusing to do so, Butale “verbally attacked both the Party Chairman and Vice President; and called the Party Patron a ‘dictator’ who has no right to attend NEC meetings.”

In reaction to the latter, Tshekedi writes that “it is a BPF congress resolution that the Patron be a member of the NEC and attend NEC meetings.”

The Patron in question is Gen Khama who, after leaving the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in 2019, founded the BPF. Khama is former state president, former army commander and supreme traditional leader of Bangwato – who are the party’s main supporters. While it had been rumoured that Khama would run for the chairmanship at the inaugural Palapye congress, that didn’t happen. His membership of the Central Committee has only serves to solidify speculation that he wants to keep tabs on a party that some says exists to serve his personal interests. 

The problem that Butale described (about an unelected party member sitting in NEC meetings) is one that another opposition has had to deal with.

When the United Action Party (Bosele) dissolved into the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), some of its leaders became members of a Central Committee whose meetings were attended by prominent but unelected BCP members: former party president, Michael Dingake and Gobe Matenge. The pair attended Central Committee meetings as “veterans” and the argument that the former UAP members made against this arrangement was that if there was need at all to have party veterans attend Central Committee meetings, then a veterans’ wing from which representatives could be drawn should be formed. They also pointed out that one of the practical complications that could arise from this situation was that resolutions of an elective-body meeting that was attended by non-elected members have no legal force and effect and would be rejected as evidence in a court of law.

BPF seems to be in about the same position. While there may be a national congress resolution, Khama’s membership of the NEC subverts the norm because a patron’s role is typically limited to supporting an organization by either giving or raising money for it. Whatever his indiscretions, Butale is a lawyer and there may be legal weight to his reported argument that Khama has no right to sit in the NEC.

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