The surprise return of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) veteran and former Molepolole South MP Daniel Keatametse Kwelagobe to the central committee has set tongues wagging within the party. Already some observers suggest that his return could rekindle his rivalry with party president Ian Khama, who sources say is unhappy with the development. Sources allege that Khama was disappointed with Kwelagobe's re-election.
Ridiculed, belittled and dismissed as a spent force in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) politics, with some already writing his political obituary, Kwelagobe surprised many when he forced his way back into the party central committee at the Mmadinare congress last week. And he made the comeback in spectacular fashion, feeding his detractors within and outside the party humble pie. For DK this was a launch pad for a comeback. DK’s strong qualities as a politician are legendary. He is resilient, consistent and loyal to his brand. In an era of defections, DK found it appropriate to stay in one place and fight with the tenacity of a wounded buffalo. Like some people, he could have easily defected and claimed to be more opposition than people who never voted BDP. But, he chose the ethical yet hard approach of rebranding and reclaiming a place in the political dinner table that is BDP.
About four weeks before Mmadinare congress, when asked if he could consider standing for elections in future, DK responded: "O raya fa ke batla go jesa mongwe tlhopho...Ee!" In some quarters questions are still asked if Shima Monageng's – DK’s political rival from Molepolole South – attempt to enter the central committee was not put on hold by DK's nomination. They observe that Monageng was the direct victim of DK's participation. Even if DK had not won Monageng was likely to lose because of the split from their constituency. DK's nomination at the last minute meant there were two candidates from the same constituency standing for the same position at the congress. So contrary to popular belief that DK's participation was sudden, some still believe that Monageng was ill-prepared and never saw it coming, even though it cannot be the only factor that made Monageng lose.
Some detractors accuse DK of being a power monger who is against other people rising in stature because he clings to the believe that he is the most powerful in the party in the south. DK's detractors point to his failure to produce a successor to any position despite having been in Parliament for about four decades. They said he was openly against Masisi (supported Tebelelo) ahead of the congress, opposed Mompati Merafhe's appointment as Vice President, and Ramadeluka Seretse's candidacy. His relationship with Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri is said to have soured when the latter was appointed minister. Despite claiming to have a harmonious relationship with Matlhabaphiri, DK openly supported Ntuane against the former.
Although Monageng claims to have gone to Mmadinare with a mandate and full support of the delegates, sources in Kweneng region said only Matlhabaphiri had been endorsed as he had lobbied for support. Monageng seems to have resigned himself to fate. He said; "That's politics for you, especially in Molepolole. I had indicated to Molepolole north and south that I needed their support. DK's candidature was a big surprise but I am not worried. What I have to do is continue solidifying and consolidating my position in Molepolole South where all party structures are sympathetic to me. One has to fight for survival in a stiff and cut throat competition which disregards people's interest.”
Monageng finds fault with statements attributed to DK in the media regarding the status of the party ahead of Mmadinare. He said there are certain sentiments he concurs with but as a party veteran DK should use the right platforms (not publicly) to express his views. "What he did does not build and in fact arms the opposition. Every leader has to be respected and advised, directed but not in a combative manner. Even in Molepolole we sometimes differed with him but we respected him. We should sometimes bury our differences for the sake of the party. I wish nobody has been elected into the central committee to revenge for having some differences with the other leaders. I hope they are there to help build the party," he said, adding that there are things he would want to say but has to respect the party leadership.
Central Committee results from 36th Elective Congress;
President – Seretse Khama Ian Khama unopposed
Chairman - Mokgweetsi Masisi (582) defeating Tebelelo Seretse (219), Moemedi Dijeng (69), Ndelu Seretse (57) and Biggie Butale (23)
Secretary General - Botsalo Ntuane (724) defeating Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri (180)
Deputy Secretary General - Shaw Kgathi (296) defeating Metlha Mokwena (248) ,Tebatso Lekalake (184) and Mbaha Anderson Kabimba (128).
Treasurer – Satar Dada unopposed
Deputy Treasurer - Jagdish Shah (653) defeating Paul Paledi's (127) and Lesedi Dintwe (19).
Additional Members: Unity Dow, Botlogile Tshireletso, Fidelis Molao, Daniel Kwelagobe and Nonofo Molefi
The five nominated Members to the Central Committee by the BDP President are Mpho Balopi, Mpho Montsho, Tshekedi Khama, Mma Phuduhudu and Thato Kwerepe.