Contrary to what was expected of him, President Ian Khama has steered clear from publicly endorsing Ms Tebelelo Seretse for the position of BDP Chairman.
If Khama’s remarks at the BDP women’s wing congress at Tsabong were supposed to send a message that he was sympathetic to Seretse’s candidacy, then the President was also equally aware of the damage he could do to himself and the party were he to be open and explicit.
Seretse is challenging party strongman Daniel Kwelagobe for the position of Chairman.
It was largely expected inside the BDP that President Khama would openly endorse Seretse, given the fallout between him [Khama] and Kwelagobe.
History must have taught Khama that openly endorsing one candidate against the other always brings more problems than solutions.
A few years ago, the then President Festus Mogae publicly endorsed Khama against Ponatshego Kedikilwe for the position of Chairman.
The event was a Women’s congress at Selibe Phikwe.
Although Khama then went on to trounce Kedikilwe, Mogae’s ham-fisted behaviour so polarized the party that a few years down the line he was forced to apologise to Kedikilwe and his supporters, saying he was sorry for the harm and offence he had caused with his partial stance.
But the damage had been done.
Addressing the BDP Women’s Congress at Tsabong on Thursday, Khama could only go as far as saying he looked forward to working with Tebelelo Seretse in the future.
“Your Chairperson, Ms. Tebelelo Seretse has already publicly
announced that she is not seeking another mandate as Chairperson of the
BDP Women’s Wing. I therefore take this opportunity to commend her for
providing good leadership during her term of office. She made a big
impact during the meetings of the Central Committee towards our attempts
to propel our party further forward.”
A somewhat folk tongued Khama added that “I wish her well in her future
endeavours and look forward to working with her in those.”
This was clearly in reference to Seretse’s contest for BDP Chairmanship.
The recent years have brought political difficulties to Seretse.
Since losing a parliamentary primary contest to her long time nemesis, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, a comeback has been an upward struggle for a hard fighting woman more known for her brash political style.
It will be interesting to see if she will successfully float on Khama’s coattails to be able to dislodge one of the most beloved politicians inside the BDP, Daniel Kwelagobe.
“We have less than 6 months to go before Batswana go to the polls. I count on your hard work and commitment to ensure that our party wins these elections convincingly. And I know, you can do it if you put your mind to it,” said President Khama.
“I must emphasize that as you conduct your elections, you must
remember that as Democrats to ‘Put Party First’, a commitment most of us
renewed recently at our national council. All elections should be used
as an opportunity to strengthen and renew our passion for the party;
they should not be viewed as a stepping stone to pursue individual
agendas with factional tendencies. Our ability to lead as individuals
should be measured in our own ability to let others lead. I expect you
to leave this congress with renewed vigour, especially that we need all
the energy we can amass as we go into the 2009 elections,” said Khama.