Breaking News

Butale lawful president of BPF- court

27 Apr 2023

Mr Biggie Butale is the lawful president of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).

This follows the Lobatse High Court Judge, Matlhogonolo Phuthego’s Wednesday ruling on an April 13 application made on a certificate of urgency by the quartet of Butale (BPF President), Reitumetse Aphiri (BPF Acting General Secretary), Ford Moiteela (BPF Secretary) and Botswana Patriotic Front, represented by attorney Diba Diba.

The respondents in the matter were Tshekedi Khama, Vuyo Yane Notha, Robert Mariba, Prince Bosilong, Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Motswasele Kganetso, Dr Kolaatamo Malefho, James Kgalajwe and Moiseraela Goya.

The court learnt that the first to fourth respondents were suspended Secretary General, Deputy Secretary, Deputy Treasurer and Secretary for Political Education and the fifth respondent was the patron of BPF, while the sixth to ninth respondents were the Treasurer, Secretary of Health, Secretary for International Relations and Secretary for Labour Affairs.

Giving the background of the application, Justice Phuthego said the fifth respondent, Lt Gen. Dr Khama in his aforesaid capacity was allegedly cited as being part of the cohort, alongside the first to fourth respondents causing instability within the BPF.

The judge said the sixth to ninth respondents were equally allegedly part of the cohort, alongside the first to fourth respondents also causing instability in the BPF.

The applicants wanted the court to issue an order declaring the first applicant as the lawful president of the BPF and also declaring that the suspensions of first to fourth respondents on March 28 and confirmed at a meeting of the National Executive Committee held on April 05 was lawful and valid.

Furthermore, the applicants wanted the High Court to issue an order declaring that any and all decisions purportedly taken by either and/or all of the respondents post their suspension were unlawful and thereby set aside.

The applicants also wanted an order directing the first to fourth respondents to be interdicted and/or restrained from purporting to be Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, Deputy Treasurer and Secretary for Political Education of the BPF.

Therefore all respondents were interdicted and or restrained from representing or purporting to represent the BPF in any from or manner without lawful authority by the National Executive Committee and the first applicant.

Justice Phuthego said the notice of motion was supported by an affidavit deposed by Mr Butale, who averred that on March 20, there was a National Executive Committee meeting held at Staybridge hotel in Gaborone to among others; discuss issues of discipline within the party.

The first applicant alleged that the issue relating to discipline sparked conflicts and tempers flared and as emotions escalated, members began to threaten violence on one another.

Mr Butale further stated that due to the commotion and the said meeting getting out of control, he abruptly ended and postponed it sine die.The first respondent averred that in the midst of the interchange following the adjournment of the meeting, three members of the executive committee; being himself, Guma Moyo and Thatayaone Serema threatened to resign from the party.

He said while Moyo and Serema continued to do so the next day on March 21, he retracted, adding that he threatened to resign solely on the spur of the moment and based on the anarchy and ill-discipline that persisted within the party.

Therefore, Judge Phuthego said Mr Butale alleged that he continued discharging his duties as the president of the BPF, which included suspending the key actors in the anarchy on March 28 being the first to fourth respondents.

Mr Butale had stated that he was motivated to act on the suspensions as a result of a correspondent issued on March 27 in which the first respondent (Tshekedi Khama) indicated that he was under the impression that the first applicant had resigned from the party, despite holding party activities.

The letter from the first respondent in part stated that; “Whilst your position of resigning is understood, we are surprised that you are now conducting party activities where you were spotted in the eastern region in Selebi Phikwe where you also gave address under the pretext that you are the BPF president.

“We therefore advise you to cease and desist from such. We will inform all the party structures and members of your resignation from the party,” said the letter.

Therefore, Mr Butale said the application was filed on a matter of urgency triggered by the correspondent that was issued by the second respondent on April 6, indicating preparations for a congress in Selebi Phikwe on April 15. Furthermore, a parallel national conference was also to be held in Selebi Phikwe from April 29 to May 01 despite the National Executive Committee having slated the conference for the same dates in Gaborone.
The applicants alleged that the meeting of April 15 in Selebi Phikwe was set by rogue suspended BPF members, who no longer held any authority to do so.
The respondents, represented by Thabiso Tafila attorneys argued that the applicants had failed to demonstrate urgency, thus arguing that the matter should not be heard on urgency.
The sum and substance of the respondents’ defence was that Mr Butale was not the president of the BPF, as he had resigned as a member of the BPF and consequently as its president.
Furthermore, the respondents argued that Mr Butale could not exercise any constitutional powers over the BPF or members thereof.
Therefore, the answering affidavit countered that suspension of first to fourth respondents was invalid, null and void.
The second respondent averred that the March 20 meeting, that was a heated discussion, was in regard to whether the party should not hold a national conference and a congress or a congress and extra ordinary congress.

Furthermore, the second respondent had alleged that during the said meeting, Mr Butale complained of two national executive committee members who had behaved in a manner he did not like at a party event in Letlhakane.

The court learnt that he wanted action to be taken against them and threatened that if no action was taken, he was going to resign from the party on that day.

It was further alleged that after realising that the meeting was reluctant to act against the second and third respondents, he (Butale) stormed out of the meeting. Therefore, the respondents argued that the matter for consideration was whether Mr Butale was still a member and president of the BPF following his storming out of the meeting on March 20.

They further argued that as per clause 7.1 of the BPF constitution one does not need to pronounce one’s resignation by a letter, as a verbal pronouncement of the resignation was enough.

The court thus ruled that the respondents were interdicted and/or restrained from calling or holding any convocation or meeting without the calling of the first respondent as per the constitution of the BPF.

The respondents were also interdicted and/or restrained disseminating any communication under the official forums and colours of the BPF, publishing any statement on behalf of the BPF, make use of any BPF property, hand over the password and administration rights of media platforms and restrain from obstructing any member of the BPF NEC from performing their functions. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Moshe Galeragwe

Location : GABORONE

Event : Court

Date : 27 Apr 2023