Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama has taken the war to his party - Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) - over the candidature of Moemedi Dijeng at his c onstituency.
Khama will be defending his seat to represent the BDP in Serowe West in the 2019 general election against Dijeng and former Member of Parliament for Gaborone North and cabinet member Keletso Rakhudu. Khama has engaged his lawyers- The Law Practice CJ Mazhinye, to challenge in court as a matter of urgency the way vetting was carried out, during which process, Dijeng was approved.
This comes after Khama had put forward demands under time frames for Dijeng to be disqualified. In a letter dated July 20th 2018 Khama gave BDP Central Committee three days to disqualify Dijeng. Failure by the party to act on the matter Khama said he would be left with no choice but to demand for the holding of Extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council within Seven (7) days of receipt of the letter.
Should this fail Khama posited that he would move an urgent application with the High Court to review Dijeng’s approval and interdict holding of primaries in the constituency. He advises the party through his lawyers to act on the matter to avoid litigation.
The letter, addressed to the party chairman Slumber Tsogwane who is also Vice President, states that, “it is the impropriety of the manner in which the approval of prospective candidates recommended by the Branch Committee in Serowe West Constituency was carried out by yourselves that has precipitated the delivery of this communication”.
Khama argues that Dijeng was once found to have contravened the BDP Code of Conduct. He stated in the letter that Dijeng’s candidacy has been approved “despite the fact that the Disciplinary Committee of the very same Central Committee had on the 12th of June 2018, found the said Dijeng guilty of contravening Clause 16 of the party’s Code of Conduct for candidates in primary election stemming from a complaint raised by the Central Region Committee; and despite the fact that the central committee knew or ought to have known of this ruling not only because, in terms of the party’s procedures, all findings of the disciplinary committee are forwarded to it but also that our client made the Central Committee aware of such a finding prior to the vetting process by handing copies of said Disciplinary Committee finding to both the party Secretary General and Chairperson.”
The lawyer indicates that it needs to be pointed out further, that of the many complaints raised by the Central Region Committee before the Disciplinary Committee was also the fact that the Serowe West Branch had been “captured and working in cahoots with said Dijeng” given the circumstances surrounding the incidents leading to the complaint filed.
According to the minister, the Central Committee cannot exercise its powers or and functions beyond that which is prescribed by the governing law of the party. In doing so, Khama said it would be acting without legal authority and any decision taken that lacks legal authority is illegal and is of no force and effect.
“Luckily, the immediate aforegoing position also presents the Central Committee with the perfect opportunity to make the correct decision given that the one purportedly made is an absolute invalidity and to be ignored. In the premises, you are accordingly requested to adhere to the dictates of the party’s regulations and disqualify Moemedi Dijeng from standing as a candidate.
“Should you be unwilling, or believe yourselves unable to do as requested, we have instructions to demand that you convene an extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council within seven (7) days of your receipt of this letter, in order for said Council to review your resolution to approve Dijeng as a candidate. The said Council being empowered to review the Central Committee resolution as per the party Constitution,” reads the letter.
Khama’s lawyers have argued that the decision to approve Dijeng is ultra-vires and invalid when tested against the fabric of the party