Six Botswana Congress Party (BCP) councillors in Francistown on Monday walked out of a full council meeting in protest against the postponement of the Francistown West by-election. The six who walked out are Tabengwa Tabengwa, Kays Phitshane, Professor Tlou, Robert Mosweu, Ephraim Maiketso and Ben Mpotokwane.
Drama unfolded as councillor Tabengwa interjected James Kgalajwe’s mayoral address demanding that government explain circumstances surrounding the by-election postponement.
“We are not going to sit here and listen to this speech until the Botswana Democratic Party led government tells us why it had to postpone the Francistown West by-election. We are sick and tired of a government that comes up with rules only to break them. We will rather walk out of this premises,” said an enraged Tabengwa.
The Francistown West by-election was postponed last week following court battles that are currently plaguing the BDP. The party was barred from nominating a candidate for the by-election following litigation by Whyte Marobela who lost the party’s primaries to Ignatius Moswaane at the end of October.
Last week, the then Acting President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe issued a proclamation postponing the by-election to January 25, next year. Kedikilwe said the decision was taken in consideration of public interest.
The postponement has however ruffled feathers within the opposition parties who feel the decision serves the interest of the ruling BDP. The opposition parties, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change last week challenged the decision at the High Court and lost.
Several efforts by the mayor to calm the situation failed as the rest of the BCP councillors demanded a full explanation before the session commenced.
Kgalajwe, a BDP councillor for Satellite North told the meeting that FCC was not in a position to explain the issue as that role lay with government.
“The postponement is not an agenda item for this council. It is a government issue. I demand that you should sit down so that we should continue with the council meeting proceedings or else I will end up calling the police because you are getting out of control. If you want to go you can leave the premises as it is your right,” said a clearly distraught Kgalajwe.
The BCP councillors who were shouting in a fit of rage further accused Kgalajwe of being a dictator who never listens to his subordinates.
“Even if you can call the police or even if we get arrested we do not care. We are tired of being ill-treated by this government and we will walk out in protest,” charged Tabengwa who was backed by a loud murmur from his colleagues.
The enraged councillors then walked out while Kgalajwe continued with the council meeting. Only the BDP and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) councillors attended the meeting.
In a telephone interview later, BCP councillor Tlou said they are yet to meet and chart a way forward which will include mobilizing the civic community. He also revealed that they will boycott the whole session.