The recently sacked Executive Secretary of the Botswana Democratic Party Sechele Sechele has distanced himself from a press release that has set tongues wagging both inside and outside the BDP.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Sechele said he never took part in the drafting of the press release that bears his names.
He said from the dates on the press release it would be clear to all concerned that the release was pieced together after he had been sacked from his BDP top job.
“I was sacked on Tuesday. The decision to sack me was taken on Monday when the Central Committee met. As such I am not authorized to publish anything on behalf of the party. I am appalled that anybody would still go ahead to use my name on such a divisive press release when I am no longer at the party office. I have no idea what they want to achieve” said Sechele.
Sechele said the papers that are publishing the press release should check with individuals delivering it to their media houses the veracity and authenticity of the release.
He went further to put the press on context by adding that from reading it, it is not in any way immediately clear just what the author is really responding to.
“I cannot be the one to write such things. The press release talks about people endorsing others. The truth is that the people mentioned have never claimed that they have been endorsed. These are the kind of things that I refused to do while I worked at Tsholetsa. Refusing to do such things is the reason why I finally got sacked,” said Sechele.
Entitled “dismissal of false reports” among other things the press release addresses what it says are allegations that President Ian Khama had endorsed Botsalo Ntuane.
Ntuane is contesting the position of BDP Secretary General.
Curiously, the press release does not state where the allegations are originating from.
The press release also says Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri was discouraged from contesting.
Matlhabaphiri is standing against Ntuane.
“We have learnt with dismay that there are unfortunate and unfounded reports making the rounds that the BDP President, Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is supporting and endorsing Mr. Botsalo Ntuane for position of Secretary General of the Party at the next Party Congress in July.
“We further learn that Mr. G.U.S Matlhabaphiri has been discouraged to stand in favour of Mr Botsalo Ntuane and that the BDP President, Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama, has agreed to that arrangement.
“All the above-mentioned reports are false and unfounded since Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama has not and will not support any Party candidate over another to any elected position in the Party,” says the release in part.
It goes on to state that “we contemptuously dismiss any reports of favoured candidates as false and unfounded. Party members are therefore, called upon to ignore any such reports of the Party President supporting any candidate over another at the forthcoming Party Congress.
“In addition, the Party President has never supported Mr. Ntuane over any other candidate for position of Secretary General. Anyone who is spreading those rumours is urged to desist from doing that. Strong disciplinary action will be taken against any person who is found to be spreading these false rumours.”
A Ntuane supporter told Sunday Standard that the depth to which the press release has stooped speaks volumes about how far down the tube the debates in the current Central Committee have descended.
“One would have hoped to hear the Central Committee of the ruling party coming from such meeting addressing the nation on such pertinent issues like electricity and water shortages. Instead they are on a witch-hunt to try to discredit people they do not like purely on falsehoods,” he said.
He added that the Secretary General should be ashamed for allowing such a press release to go into public.
With all fingers pointing at him as the architect of the scheme behind the oppress release, BDP Secretary General, Mpho Balopi told Sunday Standard that it was Sechele who drafted the release. “Sechele is the one who wrote that Press Release, he sent it to me for verification and it was later sent to the President for further verification before going into the media.
You must remember that Sechele is serving in his position until the end of May therefore he continues to carry the duties in the party office until then. I am not going to engage him in the media, he knows the right procedures to follow if he has a complaint.”
Close watchers are however not buying.
BDP insiders say Balopi is worried by the inroads Ntuane is making to becoming BDP Secretary General.
If Ntuane wins, they say, that would upend and put paid Balopi’s ambitions of reclaiming the position at the party’s next congress.
“We all know that Balopi wants to put his proxies in the position of BDP Secretary General so that he can be able to run the party from the grave. He is not standing because he knows he has absolutely no chance at the Congress because the party performed so badly under him.┬á He wants people like Matlhabaphiri who he can use and also easily dislodge later when he wants to come back. With Ntuane coming in, Balopi knows he is now finished,” said a BDP member.