Saturday, December 3, 2022

If he wants to become Kwelagobe’s heir, Rammidi should resign from cabinet

It now seems pretty certain that Kentse Rammidi is headed for an almighty falling out with President Ian Khama.

From the look of things Rammidi has made up his mind.
He has his cast on the position of BDP Secretary General and nothing is going to make him change his mind.

But he should be careful, one road leads to the position of Secretary General, the other leads to expulsion ÔÇô not just from cabinet, but party as well.

The settling of score which started with Gomolemo Motswaledi may yet reach new heights.

At the center of Rammidi’s troubles with Ian Khama is the question whether or not the BDP should hold elections for the Central Committee in July.

Its n irony in terms that two people both claming to be wedded to democracy could differ on so elementary a principle of democracy such as holding of elections.

On the one hand sits Rammidi who wants the party to go for elections which by the way are the only known democratic process of choosing leaders.

On the other hand sits the president; a self confessed democrat who in a very strange and ironic way is anathematic to elections and all those outcomes that elections bequeath.

It is not by chance that there is not a day that passes without Rammidi calling for reforms.
He is calling for exactly the say process of democratization that got Gomolemo Motswaledi into trouble.

While there is nothing wrong with crying out for reforms per se it’s important to remind him that he cannot, for goodness sake order that tonic from inside cabinet. That is explicitly forbidden. At least under Khama’s rule book.

I worry a lot that Rammidi has gotten ahead of himself.

Nobody inside the BDP challenges Khama and gets away with it.

The reforms that Rammidi is calling for are music to our ears. We have been calling for them for years.

The only difference is that for Rammidi it can all go pear-shaped.
A recent letter from the President warning him about his ambitions is a stark reminder that Khama does not have a single reformist cell in his body.

When together with Outsa Mokone I interviewed him recently, Rammidi struck me as a thoughtful, measured and somewhat selfless man ÔÇô a rare breed in a murky crowded BDP field where arrogance, snobbery, dishonesty and self-centeredness rein supreme.

I was particularly impressed by his originality, his sincerity and a lack of attempt to peddle influence.

He easily cast off the managerial view of politics, which is a key hallmark of Khama’s leadership style.

Rammidi thinks a strong party ÔÇô not a strong government wins elections.
Khama thinks the reverse.

During the interview Rammidi was especially ashamed of the growing snobbery of his party.
Although he would not say it in so many words, the diminishing space for public debate, dissent and dissonance inside the BDP pained him deeply.

He talked about a need to remain relevant, buoyantly pointing out a refusal by the BDP to debate political party funding and electoral reforms would render the old machine not only irrelevant but also obsolete.

May be it was all an exercise in self promotion.

Starting this month Rammidi will mount the BDP platform to sound the trumpet of BDP belief.
Formatively associated with the A-Team he will have a difficult job convincing the faithful that he is a true descendant of Daniel Kwelagobe.

He will have a hard time convincing the BDP faithful that contrary to popular belief he is in fact an heir to that arm of the party that ferociously believes in maintaining a vibrant party even if it’s at the cost of the government arm.

His contribution in parliament this past week during which he passionately called for the legislature’s absolute independence was ominous.

It was a pre-emptive strike that underscored a deep-seated belief that parliament should never be under the executive thumb.

More than all of us, Rammidi should know that his days as a junior minister are numbered.
His position as minister has become untenable especially under Ian Khama ÔÇô an intolerant personality cult who is unprepared to share public attention, let alone political space with anybody else.

I sense that Rammidi is positioning himself to become the future Daniel Kwelagobe.

Kwelagobe has set the bar too high and his will be a very a difficult path to follow.

It’s even more difficult to see how Rammidi he can lay claim to Kwelagobe’s prize if he continues to maintain one foot inside cabinet.

To become a future Kwelagobe, Rammidi will have to eschew short term frills that come with cabinet position.

The reason why Kwelagobe is today the most powerful yet unaccountable person inside the BDP is that when faced with a choice of party and cabinet, he chose the party.

There is however some reassurance in the fact that like Kwelagobe, Rammidi sees himself through and through as for the party and of the party.

Like Kwelagobe, he possesses a mixture of hyperbole and bewildering rhetoric.
Those will be critical in the battles ahead.

Like Kwelagobe he has a deep, oratorical voice which weaves very nicely with a shrewd grasp of Setswana language not very far, in both content and tone from that of Sir Ketumile Masire.
A grassroots populist in the true mould of Daniel Kwelagobe, Rammidi he sees his ultimate contribution as saving the BDP from a path of self-destruction on which it seems set under Ian Khama’s jackboot of managerial politics.

It’s too early to start comparing Rammidi’s political survival instinct head for head to that of Daniel Kwelagobe.

The reason why Kwelagobe has served all of Botswana’s four presidents as both a senior minister and senior party executive owes much to his energy, patience, careful planning and a broad streak of self-belief.

If he wants to become Kwelagobe’s political godson Rammidi should resign from cabinet and earnestly mount his campaign to become BDP Secretary without the inconveniences of accounting to the President everyday.

Other than the perks of a junior minister, he has nothing to lose.
Otherwise expulsion beckons.


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