Former President Sir Ketumile Masire has appealed to the barata-phathi faction and the Botswana Democratic Party central committee to stand down from their tough stances and hastily convene a meeting to allow for dialogue to settle their differences, which threaten to tear the BDP asunder.
Masire went live on the national broadcaster on Thursday afternoon, calling on the BDP’s warring factions to smoke the peace pipe.
On Tuesday night Masire led a team comprising of party treasurer Satar Dada, his deputy Kagiso Mmusi, Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe and attorneys Lawrence Khupe and Parks Tafa of Collins Newman and Company, which sought a meeting with the disgruntled barata-phathi faction of the BDP with a view to finding an amicable solution to the ongoing standoff between the barata-phathi and the BDP leadership.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore avenues of resolving the standoff and avoiding the possibility of a BDP breakup. Last Saturday barata-phathi convened a national gathering, attended by over 300 delegates from all over the country, at which they made a number of demands and announced that they intend to form splinter party. On Monday night, after a series of ad hoc meetings, the BDP central committee released a statement dismissing the barata-phathi’s demands and challenging them to hand over their membership cards within 48 hours.
But Masire and his peace delegation on Thursday called on the two warring parties to heed their call for dialogue and compromise.
“We call on the barata-phathi to desist from making inflammatory statements that they intend to form a new party, and stand down on their concerns and demands to allow for dialogue with the party leadership” said Massire.
He further called on the BDP central committee to hold off on its threats of instituting disciplinary action against the barata-phathi to allow for dialogue in pursuit of reconciliation.
Masire also called on the barata-phathi to appoint a 5 member working group which will meet with the central committee to discuss party unity and reconciliation.
“The central committee should convene a meeting with the barata- phathi working group and my team to address this matter. We urge all democrats alike to support these efforts” said Masire.
The meeting between Masire and his team and the barata-phathi was held with the blessing of President Ian Khama, but not at his request. It therefore remains to be seen whether Khama and the BDP central committee will accede to Masire’s call for peace and reconciliation.