The recent sexual misconduct allegations leveled against Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) president, Biggie Butale have divided the party National Executive Committee (NEC), Mmegi has learnt.
Sources within the party say some of the committee members believe Butale is not guilty until the courts of law say so and they suspect the scandal is just a conspiracy to push him out of the party leadership. On the other hand, there are those pushing for his exit from the party until he is cleared of the criminal allegations. The BPF NEC on Monday was and is still divided on measures the party wants to take against Butale.
Meanwhile, the NEC has accused Butale of sexual misconduct and asked him to step down as party leader for a month to allow investigations on the matter to go on without his interference. However, the BPF constitution does not give NEC any powers to suspend or expel the president but rather to make recommendations to a disciplinary hearing.
Some believe that the move is done in order to pave way for Serowe North MP, Tshekedi Khama to ascend to the presidency. “It’s an unfortunate situation for Butale and this is a political set up and he has fallen trap on to it. The plot has been there because the leading faction wants Khama (Tshekedi) to be the president. Some members feel that Butale is incompetent and he was not even helping during the membership recruitment drive. The concerned group’s belief is that Butale does not have integrity to lead. The scandal has helped the team, which was against him to have valid reasons for him to step down. This issue was discussed last Friday and many thought that the matter was resolved amicably but some preferred to leak audios and requested the victim to write a complaint letter,” the source within BPF NEC said in an interview.
The party vice president, Caroline Lesang during a press briefing this week said: “As a party we can only ask the party president to step down for a month for him to clear his name. We are not saying the president is guilty.
This is to allow investigations to go on without his interference. NEC has chosen a delegation of three people to go and see the victim and to hear her side of the story. After the investigations are completed then the findings will be sent to a disciplinary committee and NEC will also send its recommendations but the congress will have a final say.”
In addition, the party vice president who is also acting as party president said there is no bad blood or plan to push out Butale.
Mmegi has learnt that the party does not have a disciplinary committee. During a press briefing, the party secretary general, Khama said it would review its constitution so that the issues of discipline do not go through a long process.
“ We believe that the BPF members will see the need to give NEC powers. This is the first case that the party has. We as a party believe that this is the right thing for the president to do. It should be understood that the opposition parties have been against Gender Based Violence and therefore, we are compelled to practice what we preach.
The party cannot ignore the matter especially that the complainant who is also our member and a student had written the complaint letter to us,” Khama said.
Meanwhile, political analyst, Lesole Machacha said that what is good for Butale to do now is to step down in order to redeem his name and the party. “His act has tarnished his name, party’s name and his position as a pastor. He could have known it better as a leader that what he was doing would backfire on him and the party. In fact, the NEC does not have a choice but to request him to step down.
If the party does not act, then the society will judge it and it will be difficult for them to recruit members or to be taken serious. In politics, one should always be smart because as a leader, you know that there are those members who will always want to push you out. It is a dirty game and therefore, one should always be alert so that you do not fall into the trap.”
For his part Butale said; “It has been a few days since the release of a public statement that communicated allegations of sexual misconduct against my person. This has fueled a firestorm of public discourse with the distinct and decisive deleterious effect on my personal integrity. The magnitude of it seeks to impair my ability to serve the public mission and the gospel of Christ without distraction.”
Butale also said, “in the midst of these dire circumstances it is appropriate that I commit to cooperate with all investigative and other institutions of justice such as the police, to ensure that fairness prevails ultimately.”
He continued: “It is my considered view that only such institutions have the capacity and the wherewithal to carryout a professional inquiry. Morever, I have also enlisted the services of experts to unravel and unmask the fabrications of the allegations.
To my party, I pledge the same loyalty that I displayed during the tough times we faced at the formative stages of our movement.”