Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Statement by H.E. President of the Republic of Botswana Lt.Gen.Seretse Khama Ian Khama on the Current Affairs of the Botswana Democratic Party

source: Republic of Botswana (22/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 22 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[NB: some additional notes on references made in the speech appear at the end of the document]

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.

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.

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:

* 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

* 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 centre 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, countermanding 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.

Additional Notes: Below please find some background on the Articles of "The Constitution of the Botswana Democratic Party", as well as the Press Statement by the Party's Lawyers, which are referred to in H.E. the President's Statement. Additiional relevant documents can be found on the Party's official website

Paragraph 7 - Article 34 of the Party's Constitution defines "Powers and Functions of the [Party] President". In this context Article 34.1.5 specifically empowers the Party's President to:

"Have the power in exceptional circumstances, as specified in the Disciplinary rules of the Party, to suspend any member of the Party for up to 60 days on the grounds of such member's behaviour pending action by the Disciplinary Committee."

Article 34 in full reads as follows:

"Article 34 - Powers and Functions of the President

"34.1 The President of the Party shall:
"34.1.1 Be the principal spokesperson of the Party on National and International affairs.
"34.1.2 Convene meetings of the Central Committee.
"34.1.3 When the Party is in power, be State President
"34.1.4 Preside over meetings of the Central Committee.

"Give instructions on any matter to any Official of the Party and empower any member of the Party to exercise any powers or specific functions for and on behalf of the Party or Central Committee as may be valid and lawful.

"34.1.5 Have the power in exceptional circumstances, as specified in the Disciplinary rules of the Party, to suspend any member of the Party for up to 60 days on the grounds of such member's behaviour pending action by the Disciplinary Committee.

"34.1.6 Preside over the proceedings of the Final Disciplinary Committee comprising four members of the Party appointed by him/her to hear appeals from the Disciplinary Committee of the Central Committee. These members shall not include members of the Central Committee. The decision of the Final Disciplinary Committee shall be final and binding."

Paragraph 10 - Article 33 of the Party's Constitution defines "Committees of the Central Committee". In this context Article 33.1 states:

"There shall be working committees of the Central Committee whose members shall be appointed by the President of the Party from among members of the Party in good standing. The President may also appoint an Advisor to each working committee."

Paragraph 12 - Articles 6, 12 and 13 of the Part's Constitution read as follows:

"Article 6 - Membership Responsibility

"Membership of the Party entails a heavy responsibility that demands high political and moral qualities as well as selfless dedication to the cause of the Party which is the cause of the people."

"Article 12 - Duties and Obligations

"A member's duties and obligations are:

a) He/She shall be selfless in the interests of Botswana and the Party and be prepared to accept human rights and freedom of all inhabitants of Botswana, without regard to tribe, race, colour, sex or religious beliefs.

b) He/She shall not use official position or Party membership for personal or private gain or benefit or practice favouritism contrary to the purpose for which office is held within the Party, or for the purpose for which any other public office is held.

c) He/She shall not engage in corrupt practices or participate in any activities contrary to Party policy, or interests of the Party, or the Interests of Botswana."

Article 13 - Rights of Members

Subject to Article 10 [on Fees] above, and subject to the Disciplinary Rules of the Party and any steps taken there under, a member of the Party shall enjoy the following rights:

a) To exercise any right of election or vote which the member might have in terms hereof, or in terms of any other statute, regulation, ordinance, by-law or other legal provision;

b) To be elected or appointed, under the Party Banner, to any position of leadership, or any office, within the Party or any other lawful institution which is not in discord with the objects and policies of the Party;

c) To participate freely at meetings of the Party at which member is otherwise entitled to attend, in any discussion on Party matters and policies and to present proposals or seek clarification on any question on the activities of the Party;

d) To question or criticise, within the institutional frame work of the party and within the bounds of decency and courtesy and not in any selfish, subjective or malicious manner the activities of any member of the Party, Party Officials or the actions of the Government and administration of Botswana;

e) To defend Party policies, subject to what is set out in article 28(d) below regarding public statements and statements to the press;

f) To request the Party at all levels, up to and including the National Congress, to consider any question or petition provided that the prescribed procedures are followed.


In our capacity as the principal legal advisors to the BDP we would like to react to the needless ongoing public row concerning decisions taken by His Excellency, The President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, in his capacity as the President of the BDP, subsequent to the National Congress held recently in Kanye ("the Kanye National Congress").

The BDP exists as a body and a political Party created by its Constitution.

The Constitution gives executive and decision-making powers to the President as the Party leader as it does define the functions of other Party Organs and Structures, including the Central Committee.

As long-standing Party lawyers we have reviewed all the decisions, steps and instances where His Excellency, the President can exercise his power and discharge functions with regard to the affairs of the BDP after the Kanye National Congress.

We categorically pronounce for the record, that the President has acted, in each instance, in accordance with the BDP Constitution and within the confines, parameters and limits of the authority conferred upon him as the leader of the Party by the said Constitution.

We trust that this will bring an end to the unfortunate and unjustified personal attacks in open public, on His Excellency, the President, especially by certain members of his own party. This has in our view done little credit to the BDP and to us as a country. Finally, the BDP legal and administrative framework is, and has always been well equipped to handle the resolution of internal diversions of opinion and differences without bringing the institution itself into derision. The current state of affairs should be no different.

Paragraph 21 - reference to Article 34.1.1 - see above under Paragraph 7.


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