Deposed President of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Biggie Butale is not backing down as he vows to continue with his presidential work despite the court of law upholding the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee to expel him.
Butale is given hope in his fight for the soul of the party, by the many people who still follow him and attend his meetings despite the expulsion. These are people who feel that Butale is simply a victim of defying selfish interests of those who want to surrender the party to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) so that they easily find their way to Parliament and Councils, including even Government.
Recently Justice Kebonang dismissed his case seeking to nullify both his suspension and subsequent expulsion but has continued to address BPF members in what he terms Consultative meetings.
This week he had submitted an urgent application at the Lobatse High Court seeking a stay of execution of his suspension and expulsion, pending a judicial review of the case.
However Justice Boipuso Makhwe said he found nothing urgent about Butale’s case as already, he had only filed an urgent application seeking the stay of execution, on the 23rd of August 2023 when the party had long suspended and expelled him on the 4th and 13th of July 2023.
Justice Makhwe noted that Butale was aware of the decision he wanted, but failed to approach the court at the earliest opportunity hence his matter could not be deemed an urgent case. The case was dismissed with costs.
However, the beleaguered Butale says he will not be taking a break from what he feels is the right thing to do – going around the country addressing members of the party, to the chagrin of the BPF leadership that wants him out of the party.
He is convinced that real members of the BPF want him at the helm of the party, and that he would not stop addressing them as they still recognise him as the party leader. It is the common view of Butale’s supporters that he has done nothing wrong except to stand his ground against the attempt of coalition body, UDC, to swallow the BPF. Butale has been going around telling people why he does not want the BPF to join the UDC.
However, the president of the BPF Mephato Reatile, says that he is not worried by Butale’s antics as the BPF is always vindicated by the law. He rubbished claims by Butale, including when he said that the BPF is in troubled waters. Reatile says it is Butale who is a troubled man, and that he needs help.
“Butale still has power hangover. He has no followers. In his meetings around the country, he goes with the same people. The same people who were in Francistown went to Palapye. He also hired a bus for them to go to Gumare,” said Reatile who dismissed further claims that the BPF will die from joining the UDC.
Some of Butale’s loyalists say he is seen as a hindrance to some people’s ambitions in the party who feel that his refusal to have the BPF join the UDC will jeopardise their chances of winning elections both at council and parliament level.
“These people know that without the UDC appeal, they will not win where they will be contesting. Everything else is just a conspiracy to make people hate Butale by deliberately and falsely linking him to the BDP (Botswana Democratic Party) and the DIS (Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services). Those who know Biggie in the party know it’s just a lie,” opines Malebo Bontsibokae, one of the Butale’s sympathisers from Serowe.
Butale has been warning the party against joining the UDC, saying he fears this could lead to the eventual demise of the party as the UDC has a tendency of swallowing up other parties. In his recent address to residents of Palapye, he revealed that for some time he and the party Patron Ian Khama have been on the same side, not supporting the idea of BPF joining the UDC.
He says for some reason Khama have since been convinced otherwise by the leader of the UDC and other BPF members who find the use of the UDC brand attractive towards winning elections.
Bontsibokae corroborates this claim, saying people should recall that there was a time the same people pushing Butale out of the party did not want the Khamas who at the time also did not favour joining the UDC.
“People like Goya, Phage, Butale and others like the young Botsalo Morotsi were with Khama. They fought in his corner. At the time, you will remember these people expelling Butale were even fighting with the Khamas. When others changed their stance, Butale and others stood their ground. Now stories have been formed against them to legitimize their decision to expel them,” she said.
Butale says his next consultative meeting will be in Kang on September 9. “No one in Botswana can stop me from addressing meeting anyway. The laws of this country do not prohibit me from addressing people,” Butale charged.
Reatile, who says there are no two BPF presidents at the moment, says they will not stand in the way of Butale as in any case, he is growing the name of the party because he uses the party slogan wherever he addresses people.