Gaborone West South Member of Parliament Robert Molefhabangwe has revealed that he is looking to defect to another political party after he was booted out of the opposition Botswana National Front last week.┬á
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday, Molefhabangwe, who sounded neither disturbed nor surprised by his dismissal, said that he has, after consultations with his advisors and his constituents, decided to seek political refuge among other political parties in the country. He, however, would not shed light as to where he will seek asylum, saying that it should remain under wraps for now.
Molefhabangwe also said that he will not appeal against the decision taken by the central committee, also dismissing any chances of him challenging his dismissal in the courts of law.┬á
The BNF dropped a political bombshell on Monday when party president Otsweletse Moupo announced that the BNF central committee had decided to terminate Molefhabangwe’s membership at a press conference held at the Botswana National Productivity Centre.
Molefhabangwe is accused of failing to attend numerous disciplinary hearings to which he was summoned by the BNF central committee to answer to charges of indiscipline.┬á He was charged with airing the BNF’s dirty laundry in public, especially in relation to his continued bashing of the BNF leadership in the media, contrary to Clause 3.2.24 of the BNF Code of Discipline and Procedure.
When he announced his intentions to run for the party presidency, Molefhabangwe was quoted slamming the BNF leadership as an intolerant lot who are prone to wanton expulsions of any party member who expresses a dissenting voice.
But the maverick MP yesterday rubbished the accusations leveled against him as “criminal”, saying that the BNF leadership is fabricating accusations against him in order to tarnish his image in front of the BNF membership.
“Those comrades are fabricating stories about me in a shameless bid to tarnish my image. What they are doing is criminal because there is no truth in what they are saying to the public,” he charged.
He explained that the problem started on December 5, 2008 when he wrote a letter to the BNF central committee stating that he intends to run for the party presidency at the next BNF congress. Two days later he received a letter from the BNF which he thought was a reply or an acknowledgement of his letter. But he was shocked when the letter turned out to be a summons for him to appear before the central committee to explain the comments that he had recently made in connection with Lobatse MP Nehemiah Modubule’s dismissal.
He later attended the meeting at which BNF Chairman, Bashi Sengwaketse, Vice President Olebile Gaborone and Deputy Secretary General Mokgweetsi Kgosipula were present. True to his character, Molefhabangwe refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the hearing as it did not form a quorum as per the BNF constitution.
“According to the BNF constitution a quorum is not only attained by the presence of 50% of the executive, as my comrades wanted to insist. There is an additional requirement that stipulates that either the party president or the secretary general must be present for the quorum to be legitimate,” he said.
In the end, a unanimous agreement was made for the meeting to be adjourned and postponed to a later date during which Moupo would be present.
“Moupo’s allegations that I walked out of that meeting are false. We all agreed that the meeting should be aborted because it did not form the requisite quorum,” he said.
Asked to comment on allegations that he threatened to beat up one of the party leaders at the meeting, Molefhabangwe explained that a scuffle ensued after Kgosipula, who seemed upset that the meeting had failed to achieve its intended mandate, made comments to the effect that “mosimanyana yo le a mo tlogela”.
After the aborted December 7th meeting, the central committee wrote to the Gaborone West South constituency committee asking them to be present during the next hearing, whereupon the latter insisted that the hearing be held in their backyard.
“From then onwards any correspondence regarding my hearings was between the constituency committee and the central committee. Therefore, allegations that I ignored numerous correspondences are false because the central committee was from then onwards not dealing directly with me. Again, those meetings failed because of poor communication between the constituency office and the central committee. The January meeting, in particular, failed partly because parliament was already in session,” he said.
But the failure of the two to meet and resolve their differences further fuelled the acrimony between Molefhabangwe and the central committee and this culminated in his dismissal last week.
A confident Molefhabangwe revealed on Friday that he has decided to part ways with the BNF, whom he has been ardently representing in parliament since 1999, because of irreconcilable differences. He also said that he has decided to seek political refuge with other parties in the country, but refused to reveal his next suitor.
“While I cannot rule it out at this point, the idea of standing as an independent candidate is not appealing to me,” he said.
Molefhabangwe comes across as a man who has made up his mind. He vehemently dismissed any chances of an appeal against the central committee’s decision or any chances of him seeking refuge in the courts of law.
“In the first place, I was never given a hearing and accorded an opportunity to defend myself. Appealing such an appalling and tragic action will be tantamount to giving it my blessing and endorsing the grounds on which it was taken, which I do not,” he said.
Molefabangwe’s dismissal comes in the wake of allegations that the BNF central committee is targeting dissenting members and dismissing them from the party. While Molefhabangwe does not sound shocked or even perturbed by the latest developments, his expulsion shocked many in the political fraternity who believe that the BNF is committing political suicide by dismissing a maverick MP who has carried himself exceptionally well in parliament over the last ten years.
Political analyst Zibani Maundeni said on Friday that it is a sad development that will further fuel the woes that seem to have assailed the BNF. He added that the BNF should be campaigning for elections instead of dismissing members and creating doubts about its credibility and eligibility. BNF youth league spokesman, Arafat Khan, also said that they are worried about the central committee’s timing.