Former cabinet minister Daniel Kwelagobe was on Wednesday waxing lyrical and singing praise songs for President Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s administration and its adherence to democratic ideals.
Contributing to the ongoing debate over President Khama’s State of the Nation address, Kwelagobe urged Batswana to rally behind Khama’s clarion call for democracy and tolerance, adding that the democratic and tolerant characteristics that the Khama administration has displayed so far are welcome developments that should be embraced and complemented.
“While our president has implored us to embrace democracy and tolerance, and continues to trot the globe talking about the same, I see among us a worrisome tendency to embrace the opposite. We are gradually adopting a culture of intolerance, with our political parties shunning their democratic ideals and persecuting those with dissenting opinions. Such practices have even spilled over to our social institutions like churches, football teams and borehole syndicates,” he said.
Kwelagobe’s statements came as a surprise to many, especially as he is himself a victim of Khama’s wrath, as he lost his cabinet position during a recent political imbroglio within the Botswana Democratic Party, in which Khama had given an ultimatum to those aspiring to stand for central committee elections to choose between a cabinet post or a party political position.
Kwelagobe chose to stand for the position of party chairman and subsequently lost his cabinet post.
This sparked a roaring political debate both within and without the BDP, with many saying that Khama’s ultimatum was actually a sign of intolerance by the president. The president’s subsequent unilateral appointment of sub-committee members, and the resultant banishment of secretary general Gomolemo Motswaledi, also fed political fodder to the president’s detractors’ assertion that he is intolerant of dissenting voices.
Those close to the BDP’s factional wrangles expressed surprise at Kwelagobe’s statements, saying that it is becoming increasingly clear that DK is gravitating towards his one time political nemesis.