The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been hit by panic ahead of reports that party activists associated with the Barata-Phathi faction were consolidating support to ultimately form a breakaway party.
On Friday, the national broadcaster, Btv, carried a press statement from the party office warning members not to attend the said meeting as it is not sanctioned by the party constitution.
According to the BDP central committee, the meeting falls outside the institutional framework of the party structures and is therefore not sanctioned by the party constitution.
The BDP statement, which was squeezed between the 9pm bulletin of Btv News and circulated to other media outlets, was a result of a special central committee meeting convened by Khama following reports that Barata-Phathi were meeting in Gaborone for their ‘conference’.
Over and above the issue of legitimacy that the BDP leadership raises, according to the BDP secretariat the meeting was deemed to “also be in contravention of very explicit standing party policies and past National Congresses resolutions, including those from recently held Kanye National Congress”.
“The organisers of this gathering, which include recently suspended party members, are accordingly warned of the status of this meeting,” the statement reads in part.
The conference has irked the party leadership and it has indicated that it is aware that even before their meeting Barata-Phathi had pre determined decisions against the party leadership.
The conference, which was held at the Big Five Lodge in Mogoditshane yesterday (Saturday), was strictly by invitation and received at least three delegates from the 57 constituencies across the country.
The meeting threatens to open doors to a factional bloodbath, coming in the wake of Khama’s decision to suspend MPs Botsalo Ntuane, Kabo Morwaeng and Sidney Pilane on charges that the trio teamed up with the opposition last year when parliament convened to nominate specially elected MPs.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, one of the organisers and suspended BDP member, Pilane, said despite the central committee’s position, the meeting went ahead as scheduled because it was a meeting of friends.
“It was not a BDP meeting; it was not a BDP structure,” said Pilane.
“The fact that we are members does not mean we are regulated by the BDP constitution,” he stated.
He said that the meeting discussed a lot of issues, including the BDP and the country at large.
“We met as friends,” he emphasised.