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BDP, Gov’t to stop Khama

Publishing Date : 13 May, 2019

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

In an effort to silently deal with former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama who is on a mission to fight back what he deems injustice against his person, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the Government on the one hand appear to have devised a modus operandi to stop the marauding Khama.


Key to this method of push back against the former President is a move to deny him access to facilities that are under government control; while on the other hand the ruling party will not amplify his sentiments by responding to them. Khama and the BDP are on the war path with the former accusing the latter of breaching the constitution of the party and subverting democracy. Meanwhile the former President has numerous cases lined up in the courts where seeks to claim compensation from Government after he was denied services which he feels are legally recognized by the law.


Since handing over power to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, there has not been peace between the former President and his successor. This past week he made known his intentions to quit the ruling party and to support the opposition and various independent candidates.
There is however a school of thought that the BDP will employ similar machinery with that used in the run up to Kang congress. “It is very important that the party’s veterans speak out against Khama. The current leadership does not need to fight back, but rather use respected veterans to put Khama in his place,” asserted a party senior official.

FORMER MPS BLAST KHAMA

BDP former Members of Parliament released a statement telling that Khama is not bigger than the party. “In its 57 years history, BDP has remained welded together by the selfless service of its members, and leaders alike. The desire to put the interest of the nation and party before those of individuals is the reason for its strong foundations. The recent events are foreign to our party and cannot be allowed to pass by without any counsel. We hereby offer this much needed counsel,” they wrote.
 

The 39 MPs stated that they hold the view that all are equal before the BDP constitution and that of the Country. We are convinced that our long and proud history is not the result of the labour of a select few, it is rather the product of the collective. “No person who holds, or who has held BDP membership nor who has had the privilege of office should lay sole claim to its illustrious governance and service delivery to the people. Successive generations have built their legacies on the foundations of past cadres. For this reason, we wish to caution those who may be made to believe the contrary.”


HOW THE BDP INTENDS TO DEAL WITH KHAMA


Ruling BDP top politburo has this week distanced themselves from commenting on the utterances that were made by both the party ex leader Ian Khama and some of his subjects at a Serowe meeting where he (Khama) was consulting them (tribe) on his intention to dump the party.  Khama is the paramount chief of Ga-Mmangwato region in the Central District, the most populated region in the country and therefore possesses command and influence to sway elections in the region - which is a BDP stronghold.


At the meeting, the Ga-Mmangwato chief also emphasised that the area is a BDP iron grip and the party should therefore be mindful of that especially in light of the rift that still exists between Khama and the incumbent president Mokgweetsi Masisi. The rift has led to the Serowe meeting where Masisi and his administration was dismissed and the tribe vowed to follow Khama wherever he goes in his political trajectory. Khama and Bangwato accused Masisi and his government of sabotage, diminishing his legacy and generally not treating him well.


“We need to ask ourselves on whether the BDP has authority of that gathering addressed by a paramount chief (Khama) to his subjects/tribe. It was not a meeting of the BDP. So as a BDP SG, I cannot discuss the utterances made therein. I won’t even unpack the decisions of that kgotla. It is uncalled for,” Balopi told Weekend Post in an interview this week.    


As BDP, Balopi stressed that they see the meeting of Serowe as more of a kgotla meeting, even though it was held at showgrounds, than a BDP political forum and hence their limitations in taking an official position on it. Balopi continued: “so, I cannot contest or protest what was said therein. As BDP re agela mahoko a kgosi mosako (which is translated to that the party respects the outcome of the kgotla meeting).  


On behalf of the BDP high command the SG also stated that he “also have no appetite or energy to respond to the gathering of a kgotla system. Decisions of the kgotla are not something of public debate. I respect the sanctity of the place. As the Setswana saying mahoko a mantle otlhe meaning freedom of expression is also respected at the kgotla. According to Balopi, however he said the party, in respect to Khama, also hold in high regard Setswana maxim that susu ilela suswana gore suswana le ene a go ilele (loosely translated that elders should also respect the young ones for them to also return the gesture).


“The remarks were very unfortunate. But, as BDP we believe in a contestation of ideas where everyone can express themselves freely. We also believe in freedom of association. We want everyone to be able to articulate their voices without hindrance but without necessarily ridiculing others,” Balopi said. He continued: “we cannot stop anyone to criticise our party, but, our freedom of expression ends where the other one starts. And so, as a member of the BDP we should adhere to the party constitution as well as rules and regulations.”


As the BDP we have processes and procedures, he said adding that ga re iphetlhele batho kana ope hela (we don’t poke people without reason or any basis). “As BDP we respect our elders especially leaders who came before us. And so we are mindful that we deal with them on different, and various levels. We dealing with different people, and so we also employ different approaches.” Balopi confirmed that therefore they will not take any disciplinary action on Khama especially because it was not a party event but a kgotla function.  


“For the fact that we say we respect him, even if he has said a lot of things against the party does not automatically equate to suggestions that are going around that we fear the man,” he told this publication. If it was the meeting of BDP, Balopi said they would have taken action because the party has processes and procedures in place. “So this was not the case.” On whether some BDP legislators Phillip Makgalemele, Ignatious Moswaane and Master Goya also faces an axe or disciplinary action he said: “I can safely say that is not true. It is news to me. We have never had anything of that sort.”


He continued to explain that the disciplinary procedure in the BDP is that, there have to be a complainant and a respondent but it has never been so with the law makers. “As a Secretary General and chief respondent, I have never received any report warranting any disciplinary action.” In terms of the BDP independents, he said they categorically state there is no independent candidates linked to BDP and that “it is either you are with us or against us.”  


Independents, with regard to the law the Gaborone North aspirant said, are allowed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Act and so there is nothing wrong with those who want to contest as independent candidates. But the independents, he added also have to field in the 57 constituencies and come with their own manifestos and tell Batswana what they stand for. “But if a card carrying member of the ruling BDP goes independent then we will treat that person as opposition,” Balopi insisted.  


The potential law maker stated that the opposition is allowed in Botswana and if one wants to join it they are free to do so. “It’s an open contest. We are ready for any form of opposition but we won’t allow opposition manifesting itself in the BDP. We don’t want to hurt ourselves from within,” Balopi concluded.  


HOW GOV’T MACHINERY COMES IN

Former President Khama is involved in a number of charity events and he needs public facilities such as public halls and kgotla to hold such. Already Government has made its intentions known that it will deny the former president these facilities because they believe he is using them for political reasons. He was denied access to the Lady Khama Hall in Serowe for his controversial meeting where he announced his intention to exit the BDP. Although Government officials are coming up with creative excuses for denying Khama access to this facilities, it is very clear that there is a method to the madness.


To further buttress Government modus operandi on how they are likely to deal with former President Khama going forward, he was blocked from using the Khawa Kgotla for his infamous soup kitchen and he opted to host the event at the football grounds. Khama’s events are neither not supported by public servants, another move to slow the former President down.


On Thursday Khama clashed with Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) after they sidelined him from the event. The former President pitched his own event. This followed his removal as tourism ambassador after Minister Kitso Mokaila wrote him a letter indicating that the position is not recognized by statutes.

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