Wednesday, January 27, 2021

“I subscribe to democracy”

In the recent past there have been several worrying occurrences pertaining to the affairs of the Botswana Democratic Party. In particular, in the run up to the elections and soon after the elections, I received reports that some members of our party were colluding with the opposition to disadvantage the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at the elections, and subsequent to the elections in Parliament.

We considered these allegations sufficiently serious as to warrant an investigation, which I ordered. I am in possession of the findings of the investigation as a result of which I suspended three members of our party, including a Member of Parliament in terms of powers conferred upon me by the Party Constitution pending disciplinary action.

Without prejudging the issues – I considered the gravity of the allegations in question to constitute extra-ordinary and unprecedented acts of misconduct never before seen in the history of the BDP. The aims and objectives of the individuals concerned were to sabotage and disrupt the successful election of the Party or, once elected, to frustrate the programme of the Party in Parliament.

During the period of suspension of the three, they, together with others, organized and attended a meeting in Mogoditshane outside the institutional framework of the Party Constitution, apparently under the banner of a group in our party that calls itself “Barata Phathi”.

I am aware, however, that this was not a meeting of the whole group calling itself “BarataPhathi” but of a small group who happened to be in that faction.

Not only was this meeting not sanctioned by the Party Constitution, but the organizers also defied a ruling of the Central Committee warning them about its illegality. The same group of misguided elements then made “resolutions” and demands, which are now a matter of record, that were widely disseminated in the public arena. These have tarnished the reputation of the Party and Government, as well as sowing further seeds of instability.

In the weeks which followed the Mogoditshane illegal assembly of the group, several insidious and inflammatory statements have been made by them continuously in the press, both local and internationally about the BDP, its current leadership and the Government. These irresponsible statements by these individuals driven only by self-interest and position seeking, goes against membership requirements, the intent and spirit of the BDP Constitution.

Self interest can never be allowed to undermine the interests of the Party. On the contrary, it is our duty as democrats at all times to position first the interests of the country, the nation and the Party and not narrow personal ambitions of individuals.

In the middle of all this ÔÇô there were announcements by the Group that they were forming a new break-away political party from the BDP. The propagators and as self-confessed spokespersons of the new break-away political party, were Messrs Sidney Pilane and Kabo Morwaeng. As a consequence, the Central Committee came to the conclusion that Mr. Sidney Pilane and Mr. Kabo Morwaeng had in so doing renounced their membership of the BDP. They have accordingly been expelled from the BDP.

I have been reluctant to speak publicly to the general membership of the BDP about these events in order not to prejudice the Disciplinary process. This, notwithstanding I have also been mindful of the anxiety these events have been causing BDP members in particular and the nation at large.

I want to reassure the nation of my government’s commitment to pursue that which is good for the people of Botswana and would urge us all to cast aside the disruptive efforts of these self-seeking individuals. Desperation motivated by position seeking and personal ambition cannot supersede the public good.

Finally, I want to make it categorically clear that the BDP is a democratic institution, not just by name but by tradition and practice. These are the values that I, too, subscribe to. More importantly, the Party Constitution provides a framework for the resolution and settlement of internal grievances and differences of opinion without harming the very institution itself.

* General Khama is BDP President

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