Saturday, July 20, 2024

“Khama’s Conduct unacceptable”

In a space of five weeks, we have seen it all.

Confidential documents entrusted to a person holding higher public office have been published in the newspapers, Party leaders have been summoned to explain taped telephone conversations, secret meetings have been convened to ask Councilors to help in ousting a Party leader, another Party leader has been publicly disparaged and called power hungry, and even likened to Raselepe, … you go ahead and name it.
All these being done by none other than the president himself. And, anyone who dare raise a voice is labeled the president’s hater.

How sad! 

These are very difficult times for us indeed! And now that things have reached unprecedented levels, with Churches, Charity Organizations and Dikgosi having also vowed to stand up to the government; we must engage in serious soul searching, even those who believe that Khama has been sent to save the country and the Party.

 I would have written this letter two weeks ago, but had to delay it as I was still consulting with the Branch leadership. Like any other citizen of this country, I am also entitled to publish my opinions, more so that the events I am reacting to have been published. And I must emphasize that I am not writing this on behalf of any faction or anybody.

┬áIt is without doubt that the president’s recent actions have betrayed public trust, caused harm to office of president, polarized the Party, trampled upon leadership morals, caused fear and panic across the country, and brought into question his standing as a leader. He must recognize the situation and apologize for such actions, and seek to reassure the Party membership, the nation, and the Party leadership that he intends to restore the situation to normalcy. It is in such times as this that true leadership beckons.

 For the president to knowingly, against all written rules and known norms and values, cause the publication in the newspapers of a confidential official document written to him at his request, which discussed sensitive and divisive matters of presidential succession, is not only irresponsible but totally unacceptable.

Has the president not read what General Orders says about publication of confidential documents entrusted to persons holding higher public office? Does the president respect confidentiality? Does he expect the people he is leading to do what he has done? God help us!

Just recently, Jeff Ramsay was fuming and released a strongly worded statement accusing the Kalafatis lawyers of breaching confidentiality rules by copying to newspapers a letter addressed to the president. He wondered how contents of a letter written to the president could appear in newspapers. He even accused Mr Duma Boko of lacking morals.

Did Ramsay say that? Talk of double standards and leadership crisis!  Sidney Pilane should reserve all his rights in this matter, and he should revisit it at the right time. In any case, he has already indicated that he will let the people of Botswana pass judgment on those who committed these horrible acts.    

If the president happens to miss this letter due to his busy schedule, someone should point to him that Jackie Moeti has said his is shameful conduct for a president in a democratic society. 

The publication of this confidential document follows another shameful episode at the presidential office.

Two weeks ago, Khama summoned Guma and Dada to come and explain a telephone conversation they allegedly had on the 7th of June. At the center of the matter was an anonymous document which the President said he found on a desk at one of the presidential offices. The document outlined in detail the telephone conversation in which Guma and Dada agreed that they want Kedikilwe to become Vice President, and that they will commit their resources to lobby for his appointment. We have learned that Khama, who was very angry, pointed to them that he will not entertain their actions. One wonders who recorded that telephone conversation, and how did the President come to believe that indeed such a telephone conversation took place. Surely, finding an anonymous document on top of a table cannot make Khama to believe its content. He is not that stupid. While Dada has decided to let bygones be bygones, Guma has made it clear that he demands an apology because his privacy has been violated.

He has since bought another sim-card. 
While we have always known that things done by DIS will only be restricted to the opposition in the worst scenario, we are now shocked that these things are also being done on us. I would personally be ashamed to summon someone to my office to come and explain a telephone conversation.

Party leaders have the right to freely speak their minds to each other on their cellphones, and no one should interfere with such private and personal matters. Khama should be urged to stop thinking that other Party leaders are his enemies.

Such conduct is unacceptable. 

The nation is appalled and we want Khama to reinvent himself. When he came in last year, we were all excited. We saw a rising star and the promise of a great future. We saw someone who was different from other politicians, someone who had people’s interests at heart: A man who was concerned about people’s rights and the state of the country and the Party.

I was personally over the moon. I told anyone who cared to listen that for the first time, Botswana is going to have a great leader, a principled individual who only does what is right and just.
But with time a different picture was unveiled. Here we are Batswana. Here we are ma-Domkrag, we find ourselves in this situation. Shall we just keep quiet? Or what shall we do? 

In an attempt to take center stage in who people should vote for in the upcoming Central Committee elections, Khama recently convened a secret summit of about 200 councilors in Serowe. At the gathering, he is reported to have requested councilors to help him remove Kwelagobe because he does not want to work with Kwelagobe anymore. People should tell us whether it’s appropriate for Khama to say such things.

If he does not want to work with Kwelagobe, why can’t he quit the BDP and join another organization where Kwelagobe is not a member? If people have voted Kwelagobe into leadership, why would he say that he does not want to work with him? What kind of democracy does he believe in?

Because of his insecurity and hatred for DK, president Khama was surely within his rights when he removed DK from Cabinet, but now he has definitely overstepped his mandate by wanting to sideline DK from the Party. This only shows us what kind of leader Khama is.
He will do anything to settle personal scores! 

As a leader, Khama should be above factions. But he has done everything moral or immoral to push the agenda of the A-Team Faction. He has forcefully shoved Tebelelo Seretse and her people down the throats of unsuspecting democrats, and he has made it clear that he wants councilors to vote for people from the A Team Faction. 

Recently he called Kwelagobe power hungry in Mahalapye. He said Kwelagobe is like Raselepe and people should be afraid of him. I am lost for words in this matter!

Only people will decide if things are right here. While Regions and other Party structures have made written complaints to Khama about his conduct and that of people in his faction, he has refused to take action even more than three months after the complaints were written. It was a different case when Pono Moatlhodi, Botsalo Ntuane, Kabo Morwaeng and others made comments about him in newspapers.

They were immediately reprimanded and threatened with expulsion from the Party if they don’t apologize within seven days.┬á

At a time when we are trying hard to find common ground with the Kalafatis family over the recent mistake, Khama is busy breaking the Party into pieces. It is at such a time that the Party needs to be united so that we can successfully handle the Kalafatis matter. But the president does not recognize any need for that with his persistent attacks on Daniel Kwelagobe. The situation is not helped by the fact that the Party has also joined debate on the Kalafatis shooting.

In a letter published in Mmegi three weeks ago, Dr Batlang Serema debated at length about the shooting of John Kalafatis. It is obvious that politicizing this sensitive matter actually exacerbates it. This is an election year and we should be doing everything to make sure that the issue gets off people’s minds as soon as possible.

We are all aware that no one can prevent a High Court from passing judgment on the Kalafatis shooting. And it is true that our brothers and sons in the army are concerned about the outcome of this matter. At this moment, we can only pray that the Kalafatis family should put the interest of the nation first by not proceeding with any prosecution.

┬áIn the same letter written to Mmegi, Serema said that ‘people who claim to love the party… are wounded’. Such statements by Serema are unfortunate.
To use names such as Barataphathi to refer to other Party members is unacceptable. It is only common that such names are used by the media and the opposition in an attempt to score points.

Serema and his people must know that by doing such things, they are actually sleeping in the same bed with the enemy. In any case, who does he claim is wounded? No one is wounded! Democrats are not wounded at all. He was there in Matshelagabedi; he saw for himself that people are not wounded. His friends were also there in Molepolole, they should have told him that BDP members are not wounded.

It is this same Serema who wrote a letter dated 3 June 2009 to the Francistown East Branch saying, ‘we encourage you to hold a public initiative in support of HE … such an initiative should be led by the youth’.
And on June 16 a march comprising 32 people was held, and the nation was told on national television that the youth in Francistown East voluntarily organized the march. All other branches in Francistown had boycotted that march because it was a factional event. 

Then came the Maharaj press conference by the Honourable Jacob Nkate. He stated that the President really supports women and he ‘is committed to seeing to it that women will take up the Central Committee positions they are standing for’.

One wonders just how the President is going to achieve this. Is he going to amend the Party Constitution overnight empowering himself to install a Central Committee? Or, is he going to cause congress delegates to vote for his people at gunpoint? I suppose it is best we wait and see how he will do it.

At the same news conference, Nkate said it was agreed that faction leaders should not stand for Central Committee positions. He gave an example of himself saying he did not stand for a Central Committee position ‘because I am a faction leader’. Goodness! Our people don’t have a sense of shame.

How can Mr Nkate claim credit for being a faction leader? Perhaps being a faction leader is the only credentials he has. I will not elaborate on his record because it is known by everyone. 
For the record, no one has ever appointed Daniel Kwelagobe a faction leader. He has never said he is a faction leader and he does not even believe that he is one.

Daniel Kwelagobe is the Party Chairman, and that should be enough. Nkate and his people must stop trying to score goals where there are no posts. We are all BDP members. It is a pity that at a time when we should be busy defending the Party and the government over such matters as the Kalafatis mistake, here we are, busy defending ourselves against President Khama and his people. 
We can only take solace in the fact that some Party members are committed to stand for truth and what is right; among them being DK. 

Daniel Kwelagobe has without doubt become an icon of truth and perseverance. He has stood out as a symbol of freedom of expression, and his character has become the quintessence of true patriotism and selflessness.

At a time when it is fashionable to agree with anything said by the President even when it is questionable, when greed comes ahead of national service, when denial and nepotism are the order of the day within the circles of power, Kwelagobe has demonstrated the will to have faith in truth and in oneself. It is without doubt that his standing in history as a revolutionary political figure and person of great integrity will be celebrated by future generations. Even when he has long departed this world of uncertainties, we shall all be persuaded by our inner persons to acknowledge that a figure once stood amongst us who lived the promise of a relentless life in quest for what is right, just and fair.

 President Khama and his people should know that we shall not all slumber when truth is trampled upon. When leadership morals and democratic values are forsaken in favour of selfishness, bullying tactics, lies, insults, disregard of Party Constitution, deprivation of right to privacy, breach of public trust and destructive favouritism. Men and women of valor who are dedicated to the Party will strongly, effectively and decisively object to nepotism, hatred, authoritarian leadership, factionalism and hegemony at all costs, and by all means.

We, as a Party, have come a long way and we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight at the last minute. 

Those who perpetrate discord in the Party should know that the day of reckoning shall come. They who abuse the privilege of leadership, who take for granted the people they are supposed to serve, who neglect their mandate in pursuit of personal interests, who believe they are untouchable, who feel entitled to power, who feel a sense of ownership on the people of Botswana, who feel entitled to everyone’s consent, who don’t have a sense of shame, who seek to oust others from office, should be informed that their stay in power is at the discretion of the people ÔÇô the very people they seek to undermine.

 They can spread lies about us, hurl insults, mock and belittle us, but in the end righteousness and truth shall prevail. We shall truly be vindicated!


Read this week's paper