Former Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General, Daniel Kwelagobe has delivered a damning verdict on the once mighty Domkrag. According to him, the party which has been in power for the past four decades is now on “slippery ground” and in need of immediate change at leadership level.
The ruling party is heading for its elective congress this weekend in Mmadinare, just a few days after the nation celebrated the BDP and Botswana’s founding president, Sir Seretse Khama’s birthday. Thirty-five (35) years after his passing Seretse is still renowned for building a formidable and united BDP. His firstborn son, Ian Khama will this weekend lead a disjointed party to a congress which political pundits say will test his succession plan. Khama’s anointed successor Mokgweetsi Masisi is contesting the position of party chairman-a contest that will test his own popularity.
He is contesting against Ramadeluka Seretse, Seteng Motalaote, Moemedi Dijeng and Biggie Butale. But Kwelagobe, who holds the record of being the longest serving secretary general for the BDP thinks the once mighty Domokrag is now on a sick bed and has called on party members to stop denying the fact that the BDP is on slippery ground. “A sick person who keeps denying his or her condition cannot recover,” he said, addressing delegates in Francistown in his quest to garner votes for Tebelelo Seretse.
DK, as Kwelagobe is popularly known, served the BDP as secretary general for 27 years and was later voted chairman of the party. The man who served as Member of Parliament under all the four Presidents, including Sir Seretse Khama, threw his weight behind Tebelelo Seretse. “I support Tebelelo Seretse because I know her. She has the wherewithal to turn this party around if elected,” he said. Even President Khama is aware of her capabilities, said DK, because when she “contested against me for the same position back in 2010, he sang her praises.” He reminded that former President, Festus Mogae once told women to use their numbers to empower one another, when they demanded him to appoint them to decision making positions in the country, “I repeat this appeal to you today. Use the congress to elect a competent woman to a decision-making position,” said DK.
Meanwhile, Tebelelo Seretse is confident that she will emerge victorious at the congress. Should she achieve that feat, she will be the first woman to hold the position of chairperson in the ruling party. “I have covered the entire country canvassing for support and I must say I am humbled by the reception,” she told close to 40 delegates at Tati River Lodge in Francistown on Sunday, “This is despite the fact that I have got no money. I already feel the weight of your expectations ahead of the party elective congress in Mmadinare,” said the former cabinet minister who returned from the United States of America (USA) recently where she served as Ambassador. Seretse, who has served as board member for several organisations including Debswana, Botswana Life and Bank of Botswana told the meeting that she is the only one among the other contestants for the post of chairperson who has represented the party in debates. “I have competently represented the party in a number of debates at the University of Botswana (UB), Matlho-A-Phage and other fora,” she reminisced.
She explained how she also raised money for the party and even acquired a kombi for the BDP Women’s Wing when she was its chairperson. “If you do not vote for me, it will not be a loss to me but to the party,” she said. Kwelagobe added that Seretse would bring reforms for the benefit of the party and the country. “If no radical changes are made in the party, forget about winning the 2019 general election,” he opined. DK, who during his heydays used to amuse people at public rallies by suggesting that a win by the opposition was as impossible as a donkey growing horns, told the meeting that the possibility of an opposition government in Botswana now exists.
The BDP veteran who lost his parliamentary seat in Molepolole to the opposition in the last general election said that even Masisi supported women empowerment. “When he returned from the African Union (AU) meeting in South Africa recently, the Vice President explained that one of the issues discussed and agreed upon by the African leaders was the empowerment of women,” he said. The first woman to contest an executive position in the Botswana Democratic Party was Margaret Nasha when she sought to be the party chairperson. She lost to Daniel Kwelagobe.
In 2010, Tebelelo Seretse contested the position of party chairperson but also lost to the then incumbent, Kwelagobe. Three years later, for the third time in a row, another woman, Pelonomi Venson contested the party chairpersonship against another new entrant, Samson Moyo Guma, but also lost. The party chairperson is effectively the party vice president although the latter provision does not exist in the BDP constitution.