Veteran Cabinet Minister and ruling party National Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe is said to have indicated to President Ian Khama that if he is forced to choose between position of cabinet minister and party chairman as was looking increasingly likely this week, he would opt for the party chairmanship.
This was after President Ian Khama called a meeting of BDP Members of Parliament where he dangled a carrot and a stick, giving MPs an ultimatum to choose between party Central Committee positions and a possibility of being appointed to Cabinet.
Kwelagobe who was the BDP Secretary General for 27 years before becoming Chairman is said to have made it clear that he will defend the BDP constitution to the last, arguing that the party constitution would be his guiding principle, especially since cabinet appointments were the President’s prerogative anyway.
Khama is said to have given MPs and ministers week to make their choices.
Perhaps as a forerunner of things still to come, at the BDP National Council on Saturday Kwelagobe implored party activists to follow their party constitution to the letter as it was the most fundamental guiding principle.
“We have a constitution that has to be followed. That blueprint is our uniting force and as such we should not trample on it,” he said as he welcomed the guests without elaborating.
He said other nations envied Botswana precisely because the country was known to uphold its national constitution.
Kwelagobe went on to say he was worried by the high number of BDP members who have opted to stand as independents, before adding that the party had a responsibility to determine what has driven their members to be as disgruntled as to want to stand as independents in such high numbers.
“It is possible that our policies as a party are wrong hence so many disgruntled independent candidates,” said Kwelagobe.
He said it was in the interest of the party to help bring back into the fold those of its members that are standing as independents.
Of course that can only apply to those who have not yet crossed the Rubicon by way of joining other political parties,” he said.
On the other hand President Ian Khama stood firm on his proposals to disallow cabinet ministers from standing for party positions.
“My thoughts are that party positions should be spread amongst our membership. What I have in mind for instance is that members holding cabinet positions who as we know are also Members of Parliament should give their undivided attention to those functions in order that we may serve Batswana better. I feel that party committees, including the Central committee should, especially in executive positions have other members of the party who are not cabinet Ministers.”
If Khama’s proposal passes only him will henceforth hold positions in the party Central Committee, Cabinet and Parliament all at the same time.
“I have looked at the party, the BDP, and wondered whether it was a coincidence that the Central Committee members are already in another National/Party position such as Councilor or Member of Parliament or Cabinet,” Khama told delegates at the BDP National Council which is supposed to endorse his proposals even as they so explicitly flout the party constitution.
“The intent of my idea and proposal to you is to broaden the leadership base so that we extend our coverage of the country and issues that Batswana expect us to deliver on. Included in this move is to urge you to also vote to place women into these positions of responsibility as well as combining experience and service in the party with new blood and ideas,” said Khama.