Botswana Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe on Friday gave the party structures a tongue lashing and urged them to engage in serious introspection and honest and critical self evaluation. Speaking at the BDP National Youth Congress in Gaborone, Kwelagobe said the BDP meet came at a crucial time and against the backdrop of momentous developments, among them the defection of a substantial number of its membership to the Botswana Movement for Democracy.
Kwelagobe said the BDP must readily acknowledge that it is meeting at a critical time, considering the unprecedented number of BDP members who stood as independent candidates in the 2009 general elections and their aggregation around BMD. He also cited the defection of BDP councilors, half the national youth executive committee, and key members of the BDP’s regional and branch structures, as critical developments that warrant serious introspection.
“All these developments, whether or not we readily acknowledge them, challenge us to make a thorough assessment of our present position and undertake an honest and critical evaluation of our achievements and shortcomings, irrespective of the embarrassment that this may cause us” said Kewelagobe.
He said BDP is facing major challenges and should not have time for alibis, obfuscations and congratulatory toasts, but only for serious introspection and forward planning. He challenged the youth wing to offer solutions to BDP’s present challenges, as they are the generation of today and tomorrow.
“We look to the youth wing to seek for solutions to our current internal difficulties. One of the casualties of our current instabilities has been party unity, and it is my hope that this congress will elevate the things that bind and unite us over those that divide and polarize us” said Kwelagobe.
Kwelagobe’s statements are divergent from those recently made by the party leadership, among them President Ian Khama, Vice President Mompati Merafhe and Secretary General Thato Kwerepe.
The party heavyweights have gone on record dismissing the impact of the defection of some of its members to the BMD as negligible. At a star rally held in Old Naledi recently Vice President Mompati Merafhe dismissed claims that BDP has split, saying only a negligible number from within the party has left.
“BDP had fifty representatives in parliament; of which only four have joined BMD. They cannot dent the BDP’s four hundred and fifty thousand strong membership” said Merafhe at the time.
At a press conference in Francistown, BDP Executive Secretary Comma Serema and Secretary General Thato Kwerepe said the party remains solid, despite being rocked by instability.
On Friday, Kwerepe once again rubbished suggestions that BDP has lost youthful, vibrant and educated members, saying there are many youthful and dedicated cadres who have pledged their loyalty to the party.
It is not the first time that Kwelagobe has gone against the grain and called the party leadership to order over pertinent party issues. At the party’s national council recently, Kwelagobe raked the party leadership over hot coals and accused them of applying selective justice in disciplining errant members. He accused the leadership of being harsh when applying the party’s disciplinary code to members of one faction and being lenient towards the other. Kwelagobe also warned that BDP will split unless it works to quell the upsurge of disgruntlement within its ranks.