Botswana Democratic Party Deputy secretary General, Wynter Mmolotsi, has agreed to act as party Secretary General following the suspension of Gomolemo Motswaledi, the substantive Secretary General.
Mmolotsi and Motswaledi are both in the Barata- Phathi faction, but Mmolotsi is generally believed to be more radical.
Mmolotsi had initially indicated to some Barata-Phathi members that he would be resigning from the Central Committee, apparently because he was unhappy with the way President Lt Gen Ian Khama is running the party.
Some members of the BDP, however, prevailed on Mmolotsi to remain in the central committee and to accept Khama’s offer to act as Secretary General. There were fears that if Mmolotsi were to turn down the offer, Khama was likely to appoint Jacob Nkate from the rival A-team faction.
Mmolotsi had a meeting with Khama earlier this afternoon where it is understood he agreed to act as party Secretary General for the next 60 days.
BDP Secretary General, Gomolemo Motswaledi, has confirmed receiving a letter suspending him from the party.
Motswaledi has been suspended for 60 days for allegedly putting the name of the party and its leader into disrepute with his recent public statements.
This comes after Motswaledi wrote a letter distancing the party from a press statement by party lawyers, Collins Newman & Company, endorsing Khama’s controversial unilateral decisions. The law firm was allegedly acting on instructions from President Khama.
Acting on instructions from the party central committee, Motswaledi had initially written to the party lawyers and two other local advocates asking for legal opinion on whether Khama has the constitutional authority to make some of the controversial decisions that he has been making.
Advocate Pilane and Advocate Collins concur that Khama did not have the constitutional authority to make the decisions. Collins Newman & Company, who is both BDP lawyers and Khama’s personal attorneys, however, preempted central committee discussions on the divisive issue and flighted press statements in the media last week, maintaining that Khama had the constitutional authority to make the decisions.
The BDP Central Committee has, however, distanced itself from the press statement by Collins Newman & Company and asked the public to disregard it.
“That statement by the said Attorneys was unauthorized by the Party, and was not issued on behalf of the Party.
“Attorneys Collins Newman & Company has no authority to speak for the BDP. We repudiate them and their statement, and request the public to disregard it. The subject of the press release issued by these Attorneys is a matter of internal concern to the BDP, and it was not appropriate for them to expose it to the public. It is our hope that these Attorneys will refrain from conduct that undermines our relationship with them. Theirs cannot be proper and professional conduct, certainly not of the type that an attorney ought to engage in when conducting the affairs of his client,” stated a press statement released and signed by the party Secretary General, Gomolemo Motswaledi.
The BDP Secretary General said the party found the statement by Collins Newman & Company “emotive and unprofessional”. Motswaledi further states that “there is a matter within the party concerning the powers of the president of the party on which there is a difference of opinion as between him and the Central Committee. The matter is of a legal nature, and is best resolved by obtaining expert legal opinion on it. It was to achieve this that the party sought written legal opinions from Sidney Pilane, Peter Collins, and Collins Newman & Company.
All three were required to submit their opinions to the party. Messrs Pilane and Collins have already done so. We are deeply disappointed that Collins Newman & Company decided to publish theirs to the public rather than give it to us who had requested it of them.”
Motswaledi further urged the party “not to allow distractions such as the conduct of Attorneys Collins Newman & Company to cause them to take their eyes off the ball. Of the greatest importance to the Party and the country at this time is that we should win those elections convincingly.”
The party is currently grappling with a difficult choice: grant President Khama the dictatorial powers he craves, or demand a return to democratic values.
A number of BDP Central Committee members have confirmed to the Sunday Standard that Motswaledi received a letter suspending his about an hour ago.
The Party Central Committee has, however, closed ranks around Motswaledi and is even expected to challenge Khama’s authority in court.
In anticipation of Motswaledi’s suspension, the party central committee issued a press statement yesterday (Monday) confirming that they were party to the letter written by Motswaledi asking for legal opinion on Khama’s powers.