One thing you can say about news in Botswana since President Ian Khama took power- it is always exciting. Hardly a day goes by without a new breaking story that leaves us frantically texting and calling and Facebooking each other. Last week it became official that BDP Member of Parliament Botsalo Ntuane and BDP stalwarts Sidney Pilane, Kabo Morwaeng, and Ndaba Gaolathe were issued letters suspending them from the party for questioning the path it is taking under Khama's leadership.
On the weekend the suspended group (dubbed Barata-Phathi) held a meeting deemed illegal by Khama's faction of the party. At that meeting, they decided they would form a new party of their own. In an attempt to stop the splitting of the ruling party, President Khama sent a delegation to the meeting asking Barata Phathi to list their grievances. The list produced was long and a bit pie-in-the-sky including such things as a review of the Constitution and the powers it awards the president of the country, the rejection of the recent recommendations from the task force on moral regeneration, and a demand that the law on declaration of assets for MPs be passed and implemented before the end of the year.
The split of the BDP, if it goes down the middle, could be a good thing for the country. It's important to have a strong, healthy opposition to maintain a strong, healthy democracy. If instead, as I suspect, it takes only the voices of sense in the party, and the bulk of the membership remains firmly behind President Khama, it will do nothing more but confuse the members of the electorate who see things in the country veering in the wrong direction. Who should they vote for- Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the only sensible opposition party, or the new Barata Phathi Party? It will do little more than divide an already divided opposition vote and leave the BDP even more firmly in control.
Why couldn't Ntuane and friends find a home at the BCP? That way the opposition would be strengthened. I think it may be more about positions and power than patriotism. I'm not optimistic that this new move will change anything but it certainly sells newspapers so that's a good thing.