As the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) saga unfolds, President Ian Khama has publicly explained his decision to suspend secretary general Gomolemo Motswaledi.
In a statement read by Department of Broadcasting Services director Mogomotsi Kaboyamodimo, Khama said that the unacceptable behaviour from some BDP central committee members has caused him to "take some decisive action, and thereby prevent the party from being beset with indiscipline. 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".
Khama accuses Motswaledi of abusing his position as BDP secretary general by engaging in conduct that has severely compromised party discipline, the integrity and the good image of the BDP.
He said Motswaledi undermined him as party leader and had ill-motives all calculated to challenge his authority in public. Perhaps referring to Motswaledi's press statement rebuking Collins and Newman Company for its public disclosure of an assignment by the central committee (to find out if Khama acted lawfully in making appointments in the party), he says that the suspended secretary general has brought shame and embarrassment to the BDP.
Khama said that after the Kanye Congress which saw the party's factionalism playing out in public, he appealed to central committee members to unite and work together with him to ensure that the party performs well at the impending general elections. He said he implored the warring factions to accept the results of the Kanye elections. "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," he said.
Khama said that in a central committee meeting on August 3, he called upon the new leadership to resist falling 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".
Khama said that under his leadership, there would be no tolerance for indiscipline, and that appropriate and timely action would be taken against anybody regardless of their status or position in the party.
He said he advised the BDP leadership 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
He said that his advise fell on deaf ears because soon after, newspaper reports depicted that the factional wars were far from over. "This was fast developing into a real turmoil, and into ugly scenes in the public arena. Certain individuals in the new central committee, clearly led by 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," Khama said.
He added that Motswaledi and his supporters should have approached him and voiced their concerns instead of going to the media to discuss internal party issues. He said Motswaledi openly criticised and portrayed him as a leader who is dictatorial, given 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," said Khama.
He stated that Motswaledi acted out of order in questioning his conduct and motives in appointing sub-committees and extending the contract of executive secretary Comma Serema. He said that Motswaledi wrote a hard-hitting letter to him and had to apologise in a central committee meeting. "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 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," Khama said. He said he accepted Motswaledi's apology in good faith but cautioned him to refrain from similar behaviour. He said he urged Motswaledi to show a mark of respect and courtesy to others, even if he disagreed with their views or opinions. However, Khama was annoyed that even after this, Motswaledi continued to question his powers in the media. "As against the afore-going 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," Khama said. He appealed to the party and nation to remain vigilant, calm and thoughtful during this period. He said he is determined that during his term as party president and Botswana's chief executive officer to restore order, respect, dignity and discipline in society and to the BDP.