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BW: Statement by the President Ian Khama of Bostwana, on the current affairs of the Botswana Democratic Party (21/08/2009)

21st August 2009

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Republic of Botswana - Office of the President
1. Bagaetsho, I have decided to take what I consider to be the necessary
step to inform you - the nation at large - and of course, to deliver this
message to fellow democrats, on the subject about the current events
pertaining to the affairs of the BDP.


2. It is with regret that my relationship with one or two members of the
Central Committee is very strained at the moment. The level of trust, and
the required degree of confidence which should exist between them, as senior
members of the Party leadership on the one hand, and me on the other, as
their Party Leader, is not good at all for now.

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3. On the evidence of recent events, all signs indicate that this state of
affairs could deteriorate even further, if no meaningful intervention takes
place.

4. The BDP is the government of the day, and has been the trusted custodian
of the lives of all Batswana, and of the entire nation's affairs for an
uninterrupted period of forty four (44) years. This has not come about by
accident - it is because of the very able, highly disciplined and selfless
dedication to the interests of the people of Botswana and to the cause of
this country, provided by all categories of leaders of the BDP of the
present and past generations.

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5. I am stating this because of the tendencies of some of our BDP leadership
to forget, and take things such as peace and stability, for granted. The
affairs of the BDP as the ruling Party are intertwined with those of the
general population. Accordingly, any state of affairs within the BDP that
could become turbulent would translate into a source of concern and anxiety
to all.

6. It is against this background that faced with the mounting unacceptable
behaviour from certain quarters in our Party, including certain individuals
in the Central Committee, I have in my capacity as the Leader of the BDP,
decided that it was indeed time for me to take some decisive action, and
thereby prevent the Party from being beset with indiscipline.

7. I have therefore suspended as a member of the Party, Mr. Gomolemo
Motswaledi - elected recently in Kanye as the Secretary-General of the BDP,
for a period up to sixty (60) days, pending internal party disciplinary
action in accordance with Article 34.1.5 of our Party Constitution.

8. There has been a series of events where Mr. Motswaledi abused his
position as Secretary-General of the Party by engaging in conduct that has
severely compromised Party discipline, the integrity and the good image of
the Party, and were done not in furtherance of the best interest of the
Party.

9. It appears that some of his actions were deliberately intended to test my
resolve as the Leader, as well as inspired by wrongful motives, calculated
to challenge and undermine my authority in open public. These have brought
nothing but shame and embarrassment to the BDP, the very organisation, he
was meant to be one of the custodians of.

10. Perhaps the following background is important, especially what
transpired soon after the Kanye National Congress. On Monday 3 August 2009,
I convened the inaugural meeting of the new Central Committee. I seized
this opportunity to combine this into an extraordinary meeting (never done
before) of both the Central Committee and all its working Sub-Committees,
which I had just appointed in terms of Article 33.1 of our Party
Constitution.

11. I summoned this extraordinary meeting for two (2) primary reasons;

11.1 Firstly, because of the key message which I wanted to deliver to the
Leadership of the Party. As I had been recently, elected for the first time
in my own right as the President of the Botswana Democratic Party, it was my
desire that such message should be received first-hand, and then
disseminated to the rank and file of the democrats spread across the length
and breadth of this country; and

11.2 Secondly, because I was going to present a road-map to the Party
Leadership, of which the Sub-Committees were a critical auxiliary structure.

12. At the meeting of Monday 3 August 2009, I addressed the new Central
Committee and the members of the Sub-Committees as follows:

 I outlined that our Party had gone through some difficult times during the
months, weeks and days leading to the Kanye National Congress and it was
important to forget the past and work together as one team;

 I appealed to all to accept with humility the results and the outcome of
the elections in Kanye and the Sub-Committees which I had appointed, and to
embrace the new Central Committee and its Sub-Committees as the new
leadership of the Party for the next two (2) years;

 I stated that it was extremely important to recover as quickly as possible
and emerge as a united front from the wreckage and harm that the events
leading up to the Kanye Congress had inflicted on the Party and on
relationships, and that I, as the Party Leader, was determined to work
together with every democrat in the spirit of harmony;

 I called upon the new Central Committee and its new Sub-Committees to
resist the temptation to fall back on the same factional pettiness and
immaturity that have poisoned our internal Party politics for so long.
Instead, I implored them to work very hard towards rebuilding unity - one
key asset of our set of values, as the basis of Kagisano and Botho;

 I asked them to make the forthcoming General Elections the sole center of
attention without other distractions, and that these things cannot happen
without a new spirit of service, and a new spirit of sacrifice, where we put
the interests of the Party, the people and the country first, and above our
own personal interests as individuals;

 I emphasized that we belonged to the same Party - and therefore, we are
not enemies but friends, who should re-dedicate their efforts to fighting
the opposition parties;

 I reminded everybody of the BDP time-honoured set of values and the duties
and membership responsibilities as enshrined in Articles 6, 12 and 13 of the
Party Constitution; and that the BDP was founded on the values which
required members, and in particular its Leadership to uphold high political
and moral qualities, as well as selfless dedication to the cause of the
Party;

 I was categoric that under my leadership, there would be zero-tolerance to
any form of indiscipline, and that appropriate and timely action would be
taken against anybody regardless of their status or position in the Party.

 I cautioned members of the Central Committee and its new Sub-Committees to
refrain from making harmful statements which have engulfed certain sections
of our media on internal Party affairs and those that were directed at me
personally and that were disparaging and portrayed me and the rest of the
Party Leadership in bad light contrary to Resolution 2 of the Kanye
Congress.

 I then assigned duties to the Sub-Committees and crucially deployed
members of the Central Committee to regions with instructions to engage in
important preparatory work of the Party towards the General Elections, in
such a manner those teams would comprise of members across the factional
divide.

 The Sub-Committees were then scheduled to report back to the Central
Committee this past Friday, 14 August 2009, after carrying out their
respective audits of the Party organs and structures, as well as, an audit
of the progress of the election campaign and our preparedness for the
General Elections country-wide, which they did.

13. Sadly, before any of the above initiatives could be given a chance to
bear fruit, and before, as their Leader, I could have an opportunity to know
and be acquainted with my colleagues in the new Central Committee, serious
trouble was already emerging elsewhere. As the newspaper reports would bear
testimony - this was fast developing into a real turmoil, and into ugly
scenes in the public arena.

14. Certain individuals in the new Central Committee - clearly led by Mr.
Motswaledi, have resorted to using the media as a springboard not only to
launch personal attacks against me as the President of the Party questioning
actions I have taken, but also to pursue conduct and objectives which are
not in the best interests of the Party - particularly on the eve of the
General Elections.

15. Without addressing any of the concerns they may have had on these
issues directly with me through dialogue or at the Central Committee
meetings, Mr. Motswaledi and some of his colleagues, have decided that it
was better to go to the media on internal party matters, and show their mark
of disapproval, criticize and portray my actions, as one of a leader who was
dictatorial, prone to acting illegally and in an unconstitutional manner.
Clearly, in my view, this type of conduct is misguided and is damaging to
the Party. It is also sowing seeds of instability.

16. I have to note that before I decided to suspend Mr. Motswaledi, he had
recently embarked on a number of unauthorised activities, behind my back and
without sanction or formal approval of the Central Committee. One of such
was a letter written to lawyers dated 5 August 2009, in which he brought
into question my conduct and motives.

17. That letter was one of the subjects of the emergency Central Committee
meeting held on Tuesday 11 August 2009. Whilst the Central Committee did not
dwell on merits or substance of the letter in question, almost everyone at
the meeting expressed shock at the tone and language of Mr. Motswaledi's
letter, and the remarks or accusations which he has directed at me
personally. The contents were couched in the most disrespectful, and
offensive language.

18. Mr. Motswaledi did tender a verbal apology to me at the said meeting -
and the Chairman of the Party also expressed regret on his behalf. I did
accept the apology in good faith - but cautioned him to refrain from similar
type of behaviour and I urged Mr. Motswaledi to show a mark of respect and
courtesy to others, even if he disagreed with their views or opinions.

19. The following day - Wednesday 12 August 2009, it was brought to my
attention that Mr. Motswaledi had given an interview to the Botswana Gazette
newspaper, questioning the constitutionality of appointments I had made in
respect of the affairs of the Party, and implying that those decisions were
going to be reversed. He was reported to have said I had acted unlawfully
and had contravened the BDP Constitution.

20. In the light of this, I approached the Official Lawyers of the Party,
the Law Firm, Collins Newman & Co, to carry out an assessment and a review
of all my decisions and actions taken since the Kanye Congress. The Party
Lawyers confirmed to me that I had acted lawfully and within the limits of
the powers given to me by the Party Constitution.

21. In the exercise of my prerogative as the Principal Spokesperson of the
Party in terms of Article 34.1.1 of the Party Constitution as Party
President, I authorised the Party Lawyers, Collins Newman & Co, to make
their legal opinion and assessment of my actions and decisions known to the
democrats, and the general public. I felt strongly that they had the right
to know what was happening inside the ruling Party.

22. A day or two (2) later, on Thursday and Friday 13 and 14 August 2009,
Mr. Motswaledi unilaterally issued his own Press Statement and some
interviews to the media, revoking, reversing, counter-manding and annulling
the earlier Press Statement, issued for and on behalf of the Party, on
Wednesday 12 August 2009, by the Official Party Lawyers, Collins Newman &
Co.

23. His actions in this regard, were directed to publicly perpetuate the
misconception in the minds of the public that I was a President who is
acting in violation of the Party Constitution and to challenge and undermine
my authority as Leader of the Party.

24. In very strong language - he has also embarrassed the Party and brought
its good name into disrepute by accusing the official legal representatives
of the Party, in the Press Statement in question, of unprofessional and
unethical conduct, when they were simply doing their job as delegated by me
as Chief Spokesperson of the Party.

25. As against the a foregoing narration of events, I have come to a
conclusion, as the President, that we cannot go on like this forever, and
that the time had come for me to make firm decisions for the greater good of
the Party.

26. Finally, I wish to appeal to the nation and all democrats to remain
vigilant, calm and thoughtful during this period. Moreover, I promise, and
in fact, I am determined that, during my term of office as the Party
President and Botswana's Chief Executive Officer, to restore order, respect,
dignity and discipline to our society and to the BDP. As long as it is a
political Party which remains relevant to our lives as Batswana and all
inhabitants of this country, its leaders must have integrity and lead by
example.

 

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