Why not honour Kwelagobe?

Staff Writer

Despite being one of the longest serving Members of parliament and BDP activists, having served under all the four Presidents of Botswana, Molepolole South MP Daniel Kwelagobe was not honoured by President Ian Khama as one of the country’s pioneers last week.

The exclusion of Kwelagobe triggered a debate as to why he was not honoured as one of the country’s pioneers a day before the golden jubilee independence celebrations, with some suggesting on social media that there could be bad blood between him and Khama.

Kwelagobe’s political career spans over 50 years, almost all of which he was in government, as cabinet minister.

Kwelagobe this week told Echo News that he was not aware of any bad blood between him and Khama, adding that he is not bothered much about not being honoured.

Kwelagobe said to the best of his knowledge, he enjoys a good relationship with Khama, just as they are in the party central committee together. “I think if there was hatred, may be one of us could have jumped the ship, but there currently exists no animosity,” he said

“Maybe you should ask him, just so that I don’t speculate anything. Even on why I was not honoured he could know better,” he said

On how he feels having served this nation under all the four presidents, but not honoured with other pioneers, Kwelagobe said he was not bothered about it.

“With or without the award, I remain thankful to the people who appreciate my contribution to the development of this country and even feel I should have been honoured,” he said

Kwelagobe said he remains content, and that the greater award for him remains the people’s belief in him. Among those who were honoured by Khama as pioneers last week are former Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae, as well as former Vice Presidents Mompati Merafhe, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Lenyeletse Seretse and Peter Mmusi. Kwelagobe has served in the BDP central committee since 1967, first as the Deputy Secretary General, and later becoming BDP Secretary General for 27 years, upon which he then became chairman until 2013 when he chose not to contest. Kwelagobe first became Member of Parliament in 1969 until 2014 when he lost the elections.

Kwelagobe has held various ministerial portfolios amongst them that of Commerce and Industry, Transport and Communications, Agriculture and Housing, Labour and Home Affairs as well as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, held under the time of Sir Seretse Khama as President to that of current President, Khama. He is how ever currently member of the party’s Central Committee.

Many Batswana among them BDP activists last week on Thursday, decided to vent through social media their frustrations on the exclusion of Daniel Kwelagobe from the Botswana’s pioneers who were honoured with awards as the nation was celebrating 50 years. Some went on to accuse the President of politicising the awards so much that equally qualifying Batswana were not honoured.

Meanwhile government spokesperson Dr Jeff Ramsay told Echo News that the pioneers were honoured in recognition of their contribution to the development of Botswana as the nation celebrated 50 years of independence.

He further said efforts were made for the selection process to be as inclusive as possible. “Certainly not everybody can be included, but it’s evident all those on the government gazette are the nation’s pioneers,” he said