Vice President Mompati Merafhe has dismissed claims that Botswana Democratic Party has split, saying the “few members who have defected to the new Botswana Movement for Democracy cannot negatively impact the BDP.”
When addressing a BDP star rally in Old Naledi on Friday, Merafhe said the defection of a few truant BDP members cannot be described as a split.
“People are abusing the word split, because it implies that half of our members have defected. If anything, only a negligible number from within our fold have left,” he said.
Merafhe said BDP had fifty representatives in parliament; of which only four have joined BMD. He also said the three hundred people who attended the Mogoditshane rally cannot dent the BDP’s four hundred and fifty thousand strong membership.
He said members who have defected to join BMD are irresponsible members who flouted party regulations.
“If they were true barata-phathi as they claim, they would have stayed and resolved their grievances. But they showed that they are agents of discord by leaving BDP and airing the party’s dirty laundry in public,” said Merafhe.
Merafhe said barata phathi cannot claim to value consultation as they chose to resign from BDP without first consulting their constituents.
“They left their constituents in the lurch, and they have run away with their vote without consulting them,” he said.
Women’s wing heavyweights also lent their support to President Khama and the BDP.
”There is no split within the BDP; we have just been exorcised of parasites that have been sowing seeds of discord among us. We are healed” said Deputy Secretary General Malebogo Kruger.
Councillor Caroline Lesang said BDP women support the president and endorse any disciplinary action that he metes out to truant democrats.
Sylvia Muzila told the rally that she has been sent by democrats in the north to relay a message to Khama that they support him all the way.
“Democrats in the north east are proud of you sir. They sent me here to tell you that they are not defecting to BMD” said Muzila.
For her part, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi urged democrats to remember their oath to the BDP, and always remember that the rights of the party supersede their personal rights.
For his part President Khama said the BDP, like any other institution, has rules and regulations that must be followed.
He quoted section 14 (1) (2) of the BDP constitution, saying it gives him unlimited powers to discipline errant party members.
“BDP members are not used to discipline. Members who are left to run riot always end up insulting the leadership. Even President Mogae was fed up with them; so much so that he ended up calling them billy-goats” said Khama.
He said he will only work with people who will assist him to build the party, and discipline those who flout party regulations.