Members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Publicity Committee’s proposal that action should be taken against party chairman Daniel Kwelagobe has put the party leadership in a tight spot.
The BDP Publicity Committee claims that Kwelagobe is frustrating their publicity strategies and are lobbying that he should be boxed in. The committee raised the complaint at a meeting of the BDP think tank convened by Minister of Education and Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi last week to map a new media strategy for the party.
The call for Kwelagobe to be reigned in could not be discussed during the meeting as Venson-Moitoi suggested that it should be deferred to a meeting of the publicity committee.
The call came after Kwelagobe made a surprise appearance at a press conference organized by a BDP breakaway party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
The press conference, which was held at the Falcon Crest, was organized to welcome members of the University of Botswana Student Representative Council (SRC) who had resigned from the BDP en masse to join the BMD. The BDP’s political cell at the UB, known as GS26 had, scooped all the elective positions at the recent SRC elections.
Kwelagobe, who commands a lot of grassroots appeal, comes across as a wild card in the BDP pack and has sparked a flurry of conspiracy theories that he may be a BMD Trojan horse in the BDP camp – a red under the carpet – as the more cynical members of his opposing faction call him.
Kwelagobe raised eyebrows last month when he missed a star rally addressed by President Khama in Francistown and another one in Gaborone South.
This sparked uncertainties over his allegiance to the party in the wake of a splinter party, which has attracted a considerable number of BDP followers.
He told the Sunday Standard that, “I consider my absence as a non-issue because I usually attend other party meetings. Do you ever question my attendance when I am present?”
Some party members, however, feel that the Kwelagobe issue is delicate and should not be handled carelessly as it may push him into the BMD embrace.
However the Secretary of the BDP publicity committee McDonald Peloetletse downplayed the simmering discontent against Kwelagobe.
Peloetletse said Kwelagobe has made it very clear that he is a BDP member and that he is not about to cross the floor.
“He followed his statement at the National Council with a written statement that he is not about to jump ship. But don’t forget that whatever he does Kwelagobe will always attract publicity. Surprisingly people did not make an issue of it when President Khama attended and addressed a BCP rally last year in Tswapong,” said Peloetletse.
Peloetletse however made it clear that he was not present for the entire meeting last week at Maharaja.
“It’s possible the item was discussed after I had left,” he said.
Meanwhile it has emerged that members of the BDP A-Team are lobbying against a cabinet reshuffle that would see Vice President Mompati Merafhe lose his position in cabinet.
The faction is said to be positioning Merafhe to take over the party chairmanship next year as a way of putting him on a pedestal that would make it more difficult for Khama to act against him.
“The thinking is that if Merafhe becomes National Chairman he be will be so entrenched that later on he will easily become President as Khama would no longer be able to act against him as he wishes,” said a BDP insider.
But still there is a powerful lobby close to Khama that is nudging the President to sack Merafhe quickly.