Goodnight Domkrag! As Barata Phathi form new party

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Barata-Phathi, the disgruntled faction of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) decided to form a new party on Saturday. The move could dramatically reshape the country's political landscape since independence 44 years ago.

The rebellion has thrown the traditionally faction-ridden BDP into disarray and stoked fears of a legal crisis as upto 20 MPs are suspected to be Barata-Phathi members or are sympathetic to the faction. The government could be thrown into disarray should the 20 MPs all decide to cross over. "If there is need, we will form an alliance with the opposition to bring normalcy to this country," one of the delegates said.

Over 300 delegates from around the country unanimously decided on Saturday that there is no going back to the BDP.  If all goes according to plan, the new party will hold a congress in July when it will be officially launched.

A name for the party has not yet been chosen. However chants of 'La Rona' - Our Land - could be heard reverberating across the Big Five Conference Centre where the meeting was held each time a delegate rose to speak. "Some people have a spare country to which they can run. We only have this one country and we will not have one man turn it into his personal belonging," one of the delegates said in an indirect jibe at President Ian Khama whose mother was from England.


A mass of determined representatives of revolting BDP members with one accord called for the immediate mobilisation of resources to start a new party. "Bagaetsho we want the Exco (the executive steering committee) to start drafting the constitution of our party. When you come to a crossroads, you decide which way to go. We have chosen to take the right road. We are taking a road that will save this country from tyranny. We are forming a new party and we are not going back. People are waiting. We will not go back and tell them that we are still trying to negotiate with mogolo (Khama). They want us to come back to them and tell them that we are going ahead, as we have already delayed for too long," a charged youth delegate said to more shouts of La Rona. Delegate after delegate - even senior citizens who have always had an allegiance of sorts for Khama spoke in favour of a split at the meeting.

Tati East Member of Parliament, Guma Moyo perhaps summed up the delegates' unanimous decision when he likened the move to form a new party to the end of an era of unity in the BDP. He said the development is akin to the end of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's downfall and the collapse of earthly shelter. "Mene Mene Tekele Upharasini. Bagaetsho mokhukhu o rotlomologile a re tshabeng! (Comrades the shelter has been uprooted, let us run," he said. "We say to Barata-Phathi who are in cabinet, do not think about the black executive cars that you are driven in. Hand in your resignations for the good of this country," said an elderly delegate from the Gaborone region.

" I told Khama before that I cannot defend the party in 2019. I met him again last week and I told him I would not be able to defend the party in 2013. I cannot defend the party anymore," Batawana paramount chief and Maun West MP Tawana Moremi said to loud cheers.

The delegates resolved to task the steering committee, which is chaired by youthful Gaborone West South MP, Botsalo Ntuane to brief its members across the country on the decision of the meeting. While it initially appeared unfazed by reports of Barata-Phathi's agenda, the BDP leadership must have realised the magnitude of the problem late Friday when it hastily issued an announcement through Botswana Television that the Barata-Phathi meeting was not sanctioned by the party. So worried is the BDP leadership that it appealed on Saturday to the conveners of the meeting to discuss issues sensibly.

"Rre Dada and Rre Kwelagobe were sent by mogolo to discuss our grievances and bring them before mogolo," Ntuane told the delegates to shouts of: "Fa a ne a re batla o ka bo a re biditse. (If he wanted to meet with us, he would have called us) and "Since when has he listened to anyone?" reflecting the determination of the faction to form a new party.

A member of the steering committee, Sidney Pilane, confirmed to The Monitir  on Sunday that the BDP has split follwing the meeting on Saturday. "We have been given the mandate to go ahead to do what is neccesary to form the new party", Pilane explained. He said the meeting asked them to call another meeting before the end of May to report on the progress they would have made in relation to the formation of the new party.

Pilane also added that by yesterday morning they had presented their demands to President Khama. He said they will also reported back to their membership on their meeting with Khama if ever it takes place. "If at that point the membership feels otherwise about the formation of the new party, they will inform us," he said. He emphasised that for now the are going ahead with their mandate.

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