BNF denies favouring Reatile faction


SHOSHONG: Even though there are two warring factions at the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) who both claim to be at the helm of the troubled opposition outfit, ally Botswana National Front (BNF) has denied reports that they are favouring one of the factions led by their former member Mephato Reatile.

Although allegedly expelled president Biggie Butale claims that he is still the president and has approached the court to fight his nemesis, professed acting BPF president Reatile was introduced formally as the ‘acting’ president of the BPF at the BNF annual conference in Shoshong over the holidays. Reatile, who is a Jwaneng-Mabutsane legislator, was there alongside party spokesperson Lawrence Ookeditse and they were sitting at the top table. The BNF president Duma Boko even gave Ookeditse and Reatile a warm welcome. Both Ookeditse and Reatile were allegedly suspended by Butale for causing chaos within the party. This was days after Butale was suspended by one Barulaganye Letang who he purports, as secretary of the Disciplinary Committee (DC). With Reatile now recognised as the acting president, Butale on the other hand was nowhere to be found at the BNF congress. Even before the alleged expulsion, Butale has never appeared publicly with the BPF allies being the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), a coalition that encompasses the BNF, the outgoing Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP). Asked what recognising Reatile instead of Butale means for the two factions, the BNF secretary-general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa told Mmegi in an interview that they issued an invitation to a political party and who comes as a representative is not up to them.

He emphasised that as the BNF they have no say. “We don’t prescribe party representatives. What we did is that in preparation for the conference we issued an invitation as early as June 9 to all political parties and trade unions. We are concerned about the affairs of the BNF so we deal with organisations not individuals,” he said. Motshegwa added that they sent the invitation to the offices of secretary-general (SG) of the BPF. He said when there are challenges in any political party, they don’t intervene but hope for the parties to resolve their issues. “We hope that all the political parties that we work with can attain stability. Our policy is that of non-interference unless they invite us to mediate,” he said. Asked to comment on their invitation and eventual recognition by the BNF, Ookeditse said the invite was sent to the BPF so they came through. He said there was no way Butale could have come because he was suspended and then expelled. Butale was allegedly suspended by BPF secretary-general Tshekedi Khama. Butale does not recognise the expulsion and has since taken the matter to court. “The expulsion of Butale hold up until it is uplifted. As it is at the moment, he is expelled and there is no way he could have been here in Shoshong,” Ookeditse said. Ookediste, who is still recovering from his recent detention by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), clarified that the BNF is not taking sides but rather the latter only sent an invitation to the BPF as an organisation. “Reatile is the acting president of the BPF and Butale is expelled so there is no confusion as to who is at the helm. An expelled person cannot suspend anyone.

Editor's Comment
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