The clock was almost 1830 hours in the evening when Justice Michael Motlhabi finally read his ruling after a more than one hour adjournment.
He was brief and straight to the point: Biggie Butale should retain his position as president of Botswana Patriotic Front; that his suspension by the June 5th National Executive Council meeting was set aside; that he should be reinstated in the party WhatsApp group; that no person should purport to hold meetings or take any decisions on behalf of BPF without the authority of Butale, and that the party should continue with the primary elections.
This was after a strong argument by Butale’s legal team that the judge should hold the party vice president Mephato Reatile and others in contempt of court for suspending their president and making decisions on behalf of the party without his authority.
Attorney Lesedi Rammiko argued that the matter was urgent in that the BPF had set aside Saturday as a day to hold primary elections in preparation for the Serowe West bye election in a few weeks time.
He added that what Reatile and Dr Kolaatamo Malefho did was a scheme to go around the earlier court order by Justice Matlhogonolo Phuthego which upheld the suspension of some members among them Lieutenant General Ian Khama, his younger brother Tshekedi Khama, Dr Malefho and others.
Rammiko argued that any matter that involves contempt of court should be treated as urgent and that it has bearing on the integrity of the judicial system.
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However, leading the defense team, Kago Mokotedi argued that Butale was on suspension and that he should challenge his suspension before arguing about contempt of court.
He also said Reatile was acting on Butale’s authority since he was delegated to attend the June 5th meeting.
He said the party should be allowed to go ahead with its business and that Butale could challenge his suspension at a later date, since he had not cited the BPF as a respondent in the matter.
Justice Motlhabi was curious to know if Reatile’s team was aware of the Justice Phuthego Court Order and that it was effective.
Mokotedi responded to say that Reatile was not aware of the Order since it was not served on him and that he was not part of the litigants in the matter and was appointed to the position after it was issued.
Motlhabi ordered that the matter should continue on the 30th of this month and that all parties should file the relevant papers by the 15th of this month.
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In separate interviews, the parties welcomed the ruling. Reatile said they would not appeal the matter but said; “political disputes can only be resolved politically and not through the courts”.
Meanwhie, the party is going to announce its candidate for Serowe West sometime today.