Friday, September 25, 2020

No plan to oust Khama ÔÇô Kwelagobe breaks silence

The Botswana Democratic Party Chairman, Daniel Kwelagobe, this week broke his silence about his future in politics, ending speculations of a grand plan to remove Lt Gen Ian Khama from the presidency.

Asked if indeed there was a plan to eventually remove Khama from the presidency once Kwelagobe’s allies take full control of the party, as they are widely expected to in July, Kwelagobe told Sunday Standard that he has heard the rumour, and he dismisses it as the creation of “mischief-makers”.

“If I didn’t support the president, I would have said, ‘don’t put his picture in my campaign posters because the special congress [that elects the party’s presidential candidate] has not taken place’. If I didn’t support him, I would have said, ‘let us fulfil this constitutional requirement first’. The truth is that I will support him (at the special congress). My region is going to nominate him. I am going to write in my nomination forms that I support him as the BDP’s presidential candidate. In any case, we don’t have a system of recall in BDP, or in Botswana. The position of the constitution is that after electing the president, it’s done. The law wouldn’t allow it. We don’t have the power to recall. If I had a hidden agenda, I wouldn’t be making these statements,” Kwelagobe said.

Since he chose to sacrifice the status and material benefit of a ministerial portfolio, for a position in the party on the back of President Ian Khama’s ultimatum that those who choose party positions cannot hold ministerial positions, there has been speculation that the BDP strongmen and his allies may be plotting to remove Khama from the presidency.

His position is that the constitution allows bona fide party members to vote and be voted for at congress ÔÇô and this includes him. Ministerial appointments, on the other hand, are the sole prerogative of the president ÔÇô and he has no qualms with that. In fact, he accepts that the president can put conditions on such appointments, as Khama is apparently setting out to do in his latest move.

He is equally scornful of the suggestion that he is being defiant of President Khama. “I am not being defiant at all,” Kwelagobe explains. “When you exercise your constitutionally guaranteed rights, you can’t be said to be defiant. I am just a humble and honest BDP member.”

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