Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman Daniel Kwelagobe – popularly known as DK – has been accused by some democrats of 'fraudulently' taking ownership of some party property and crippling operations at Molepolole South branch after losing the 2014 General Elections.
It is alleged that months after the new branch committee took office they have still not had a formal handing over of assets and property of the party from the old committee led by Kabo Morwaeng as chairman. This has created tension in the branch with some party members accusing the outgoing committee and Kwelagobe of frustrating the new committee, which is sympathetic to Shima Monageng – a long-time rival to DK. At the centre of the standoff is the failure by the former branch committee to hand over assets belonging to the party to the new committee. The assets include three vehicles being a Toyota Hilux registration B796 AAR, a combi registered B430AIZ and a bus registered B948AIW, and a bank account held at Barclays bank. The disputed bank account is alleged to be operated by some party members in the former branch leadership in parallel with another account held at First National Bank by the current committee. The Barclays account only came to the attention of the current committee when the bank called the branch to inquire why the account has remained dormant for some time, it is alleged.
Kwelagobe, who was defeated by Dr Tlamelo Mmatli of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) as area MP in the 2014 General Elections, changed ownership of two vehicles – a combi and a bus – previously registered under Molepolole south branch (BDP) to his name on 10 August 2015, and another (a hilux van) to former branch secretary Kabelo Modisagarekwe on June 16, 2015. The change of ownership happened after the new committee had asked the outgoing committee to hand over the vehicles. The new committee has since reported the matter to Kweneng region, who is alleged to have two weeks ago asked Modisagarekwe and other former committee members, to hand over the branch property to the new committee. Madisagarekwe said the handing over was completed last week Thursday, where signatories for the bank account were changed. He denied that the branch has another account at Barclays saying the said account belongs to Kwelagobe and has never been operated by the branch. "Even these vehicles belong to Kwelagobe and this has always been a known fact in the constituency. The branch has never raised any funds to purchase vehicles. RaItseng registered them under BDP headquarters and not Molepolole south branch. He was using them to run the office as an MP. Do they want to continue using his vehicles when he is no longer an MP? That is very strange. I own the Hilux and I got the letter transferring ownership last year," said Modisagarekwe.
Kwelagobe is adamant that he owns the vehicles and they have always belonged to him. He said if anybody wants the vehicles they must come to him but nobody from the branch has done so. He challenged his detractors to provide proof that the branch acquired the vehicles. He said upon acquisition of the vehicles he approached the BDP treasurer Satar Dada and sought permission to register them under Tsholetsa house but would not explain why he made such a decision. "They are mine. I asked the treasurer to allow me to register them at head office and I was given permission. If they claim to own those vehicles ask them when and where they bought them and for how much? I acquired those vehicles not only for the branch but for the whole constituency, which I was running as the area MP. I held kgotla meetings using those vehicles. I was also running affairs of the party using them," he retorted.
A source said DK is being economical with the truth. "Those vehicles were donated to the branch after he used his position as MP to source them. He cannot turn around and claim he bought them after losing elections. We will not leave this matter lying down. If the region fails to resolve it we will report Kwelagobe to Tsholetsa House and the police because this transaction borders on fraudulent conduct," said a source.
Yet another insider pointed to the divisions between factions in the constituency where Kwelagobe's supporters do not see eye to eye with those on Monageng's side. The latter have won all posts to the branch committee defeating members of the former. She said DK is trying to cripple the current branch committee because without vehicles it will be difficult to run the office.
BDP spokesperson Botsalo Ntuane said the issue has not reached the party head office yet. "We are not aware of that issue. Matters go through lower structures before referral to central committee. The region can only refer the matter to the Central Committee if they have failed to resolve it at that level".
BDP Kweneng region chairman Motlhophi Leo said as far as they are concerned the matter has been resolved and the handing over was done last week as they had directed. He denied knowledge that there is a dispute over ownership of some vehicles, saying when the matter was referred to the region they were asked to intervene in the handing over of transport and finances. "There was no specific reference to any vehicle, but then again proof of ownership is demonstrated by a registration book. I am not aware of another account for the branch at Barclays, but I am informed that the FNBB account has been handed over," he said.