While Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s Mpho Balopi was quoted recently saying Lt Gen Ian Khama is not bigger than the party the Secretary General this week refused to be drawn into discussing possible disciplinary action against the former president.
Khama has recently been running a one man show, addressing kgotla meetings and openly campaigning and de-campaigning party members in the lead up to Bulela Ditswe primary elections. Khama was in Mogoditshane two weeks ago to support suspended Tshepang Mabaila at a campaign rally ostensibly advertised as a gospel concert.
The former president has even launched a veiled attack on current President Mokgweetsi Masisi implying that the latter spends too much time abroad at the expense of his own people.
Speaking at the BDP Press Conference this week Balopi refused to answer whether any disciplinary action could be taken against Khama insisting it was against Setswana custom to speak about an elder in disciplinary terms.
“Maybe you as journalists are at liberty to speak or write about elders as you wish but some of us do not get to enjoy that privilege,” Balopi told the media.
In his opening address at Tsholetsa House this past Thursday the Secretary General had spoken at length about discipline in the party.
He said the BDP had clear provisions guiding the conduct of its members. “I want to warn every member of the party who violates these provisions. No one is above the law.”
He said there were those within the party who are happy to partner with the media and anyone who can accelerate their wishes in terms of wanting to achieve whatever they want to achieve outside the confinements of the party constitution.
“As long as we have been given the responsibility to be leading this party we are going to confine ourselves to executing our duties as members of the BDP,” Balopi said. Khama has of late used the private media to express dissatisfaction at certain issues involving the party and the current government.
Speaking to a local newspaper recently Balopi said there was no how one man (Khama) could hold the party at ransom as the party is an institution and therefore bigger than an individual. The Secretary General was quoted as having said President Masisi was the effective president and in total control of both the party and the country. “We have BDP as an institution; and our constitution stipulates that when in power the president of the party becomes that of the country. Masisi is therefore currently in charge of everything. I do not believe that there is an institution smaller than an individual. BDP is not smaller than an individual. It is bigger.” He said there could not be a single minded individual claiming to be bigger than the party. “I represent matters of interest to the party or those that can benefit the party and not any particular individual.” He told the local publication that as Secretary General he deals with issues on the basis of powers conferred on him by the current President and no one else.