Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s Keitumele Gabonewe shocked his BDP colleagues on Monday when he walked out of a full council meeting with several opposition councilors in protest after a motion by the opposition proposing a vote of no confidence against Gaborone City Mayor Veronica Lesole, his deputy and council committees.
The opposition, composed of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) tried in vain to persuade the house to stop specially nominated councilors from voting.
However, their efforts were countered by Lesole who contended that a legal opinion she had obtained from the Attorney General’s Chambers gave specially nominated councilors a right to vote.
The disorderly exchanges that ensured before the voting reduced the council chambers into a primary school classroom. It was not until Lesole ordered a vote on the motion that all opposition councilors and Gabonewe walked out in protest.
Even after the walkout, there was still sufficient enough councilors to form a quorum and the remaining councilors continued with voting on the motion.
The motion, which was tabled by BCP councilor, Ndiwaane Kenosi, was defeated by a ‘No’ vote from seventeen BDP councilors out of 21 BDP councilors who were present at the meeting.
One BDP councilor, Oabile Mafunga, was altogether undecided on whether he supported or opposed the motion, while Nunu Lekao and deputy mayor Haskins Nkaigwa abstained from the voting.
Contacted by The Telegraph as to why he had walked out with opposition councilors, Gabonewe said that he could not participate in a meeting that had undermined council procedure.
His reasoning is that specially nominated councilors should not have been allowed to vote.
“Why must one vote if people rape the law with such impunity,” said Gabonewe.
He said he had decided to follow his own conscience by staying away from the voting.
Gabonewe also criticized the city mayor for rushing to seek legal opinion from the Attorney General’s office without taking the issue with the council’s legal adviser.
“Why was our own legal adviser bypassed?” he asked, adding that his principles would not allow him to be part of the voting.
In a separate interview, Kenosi said that he did not accept the results from the vote. He argued that the council meeting was not properly quorated. He also stated that if council were to follow the legal opinion from the Attorney General’s office then it would mean that Lesole’s voting to the office of mayor was itself invalid from the onset.
“We will sit down and seek legal opinion and see how to proceed,” said Kenosi.