Just like any other political grouping, the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has failed to escape internal fights that might divide the party.
As the youngest political party, the BPF has been the only stable party of recent. However, allegations of sexual conduct levelled against its president Biggie Butale have exposed a lot of things such as the party’s flawed constitution and internal battles.
The BPF was formed in 2019 prior to the general elections. This may be a first of many hurdles so if the BPF does not get its house to order, then it might be headed for a split or lose members to other parties. It has become clear that the members have started to fight for positions within the party.
This is so because the BPF is showing signs of growth even in areas where the Botswana Democratic Party is strong. The penetration by the BPF in those areas shows that with fewer shambles it might perform better than in the last general elections. Currently, the BPF has a representation of four Members of Parliament in the National Assembly, which is quite impressive.
Some of the things that the current crisis has exposed are the loopholes in the BPF constitution. When its National Executive Committee (NEC) wanted to suspend the president because of the sexual scandal he is alleged to be involved in, it found out that it did not have the powers to do so. Therefore, the process requires the NEC to take the matter to a disciplinary hearing, and then later it will be forced to take or make recommendations to congress. This is rather cumbersome considering the extent of the problem facing the party.
Normally, party congresses are held after every two years, which means Butale’s issue won’t be resolved until the next congress. What the NEC can do now is only to ask Butale to step down, something he could refuse to do.
And there will be nothing the party could do. The BPF wants Butale to step down for a month to allow investigations to run smoothly. Then again, the party wants to save its name and integrity because the public takes gender-based violence issues seriously and the matter could tarnish the party’s name.
The BPF NEC admitted its constitution needs a review as the party may be held at ransom by some indisciplined members. It believes that a review will help give the NEC and disciplinary committee the powers to suspend or expel members who tarnish the name of the party.
Therefore, the situation calls for the BPF to hold a virtual congress and critically re-look into issues that are before the party and resolve them. It is also important that the party should hold free and fair elections without taking sides or favouring anyone at the expense of the other to bring about credibility. Free elective congress could save the BPF members from the crisis they are currently facing.
“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
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