The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Disciplinary Committee, sitting at Maharaj conference centre, has banished its secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, from politics after being found guilty of misconduct and dragging the party’s name in the mud.
This follows a complaint by Minister Shaw Kgathi, alleging seven instances of misconduct against Motswaledi.
Kgathi complained that Motswaledi had embarrassed the party by repudiating a press statement issued by lawyers Collins Newman & Co, which sought to defend Khama’s unilateral appointments and the renewing of executive secretary Batlang Sarema’s contract of employment.
Motswaledi, 39, has been suspended from the party for five years.
This means that for the next five years, he will not be allowed to run for the party’s central committee elections and neither will he contest the party’s primaries for the next general elections in 2014.
Motswaledi’s suspension, although unclear when it is effective, means that during Khama’s reign as president, Motswaledi will not be able to enter parliament as the BDP’s parliamentary candidate. Motswaledi’s plea for reconciliation in mitigation landed on deaf ears as the committee resolved that a fitting punishment for him would be to excommunicate him from the party for half a decade.
In mitigation before he was relieved of his duties as secretary general, Motswaledi maintained that he is conscious that he did nothing wrong.
Earlier, when delivering judgment, chairman of the disciplinary committee, Ambrose Masalila, said that his committee could have found Motswaledi guilty from the onset because, he (Motswaledi) failed to respond in writing to the charges laid against him as required by the disciplinary rules before the case could be heard.
Masalila stated that Motswaledi’s actions to respond to the statement by the party lawyers were orchestrated to embarrass the BDP and Khama. He said that Motswaledi had no powers to speak on behalf of the party unless with permission from the Central Committee.
“We find that his conduct was selfish, misdirected and not in the best interest of the party; it has brought huge discredit to the party and would have affected its prospects in the general elections that have just ended,” said Masalila.
Masalila said that Motswaledi’s actions of retracting the statement from Collins Newman & Co caused more damage to the party because it ‘countermanded the opinion which was defending the actions of the president’.
He said that by issuing the statements, Motswaledi was agreeing with media houses that President Ian Khama was abusing his authority as party leader.
Masalila also said that, contrary to Motswaledi’s testimony that he issued the press statement alone, without consulting other central committee members, evidence from Motswaledi’s only witness, Leach Tlhomelang, showed that prior to issuing the statement, Motswaledi was aware that the party lawyers had been authorised and mandated by the President.
He said that Tlhomelang’s testimony that there was a meeting of some central committee members to discuss the press release from the party’s lawyers was a clear sign that Motswaledi was aware that he did not have authority to act on his own.
Masalila read out the judgement in the presence of other committee members, like Nathaniel Moribame, Maxwell Motowane, Legodimo Serema, Onnetse Ramogapi, Cynthia Sekga, Peter Ngoma, Kitso Seloma, Bahadzisi Maripe, Helen Chilisa and Ponatshego Tsiping.
Only Khama’s main man, Thapelo Olopeng, a member of the committee, was not present when the verdict was delivered.
“We therefore find the respondent guilty on all of the charges set out in the letter of complaint,” stated Masalia.
Speaking to journalists after he was told the bad news, Motswaledi, who appeared calm and composed, said that he will take a break from active politics to concentrate on other things.
“Appealing this decision is not my immediate persuasion,” Motswaledi told journalists.
He said that the ruling will give him an opportunity to mourn his mother who passed away last year when he was busy campaigning for the General Elections before he was recalled as the BDP’s candidate at Gaborone Central. He said apart from giving him an opportunity to reflect, he will also take his time out by spending time with his father.
The ruling means that the Central Committee will meet to appoint a secretary general to replace Motswaledi.
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