Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General, Gomolemo Motswaledi, has confirmed receiving a letter suspending him from the party.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Motswaledi said his suspension means that he will be barred from contesting for the Gaborone Central Primary elections on a party ticket and will cease from acting as party secretary general.
The BDP is expected to hold emergency primary elections for the Gaborone Central to elect a member who will replace Motswaledi as parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
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.
About an hour and thirty minutes ago, Motswaledi received the letter suspending him from the party for sixty days. 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 release 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 confirming that they were party to the letter written by Motswaledi asking for legal opinion on Khama’s powers.