The recent announcement of specially nominated councilors has left many with mouths agape in Francistown, especially after a number of BDP heavyweights who have been active in the party were left out in favour of what many consider to be subdued and still wet behind the ears newcomers.
It was widely expected that the special nominations would also try to balance the scales in the A-team versus barata-phathi factional wars, which have always provided a premier spectacle in the council chambers.
While the BDP continues to dominate the FCC, their dominance was greatly reduced after the general election as Botswana Congress Party increased opposition representation from 3 councilors to 7. The BDP has a total of 13 councilors, BCP 7, with former mayor Ignatius Moswaane coming in as an independent.
Furthermore, the BDP dominance is compromised by the factional wars within the party, with the barata-phathi leading the pack with 11 councilors while the A-Team has only 2. Independent candidate Ignatius Moswaane, who was hitherto a staunch barata-phathi man, is also expected to lend his support to the faction.
With the recent addition of three nominated councilors, namely Ford Moiteela, Masego Pule and Joyce Ndove, the BDP now has 16 councilors to the BCP’s 7. Pule and Moiteela are pro A-team while Ndove is associated with the barata-phathi, which further maintains the dominance of the Kedikilwe-kwelagobe faction.
It is, therefore, widely expected that a barata-phathi mayor and deputy mayor will take control of the FCC, putting an end to the A-team’s long time dominance. The A-team’s undoing came after their dismal performance in Phandu Skelemani’s Francistown East constituency, where the BDP was summarily vanquished by BCP.
Even more surprising is the absence of BDP heavyweights in the Francistown region, most of whom were expected to make it into the FCC through special nomination. But the nomination came as a surprise, as three individuals who are widely regarded as rookies made it into the city council at the expense of robust heavyweights who many believe could have improved the A-team’s prospects.
Master strategist and A-team operative, Peter Ngoma, who is part of the disciplinary committee that recently banished barata-phathi’s Gomolemo Motswaledi from the BDP for five years, could also not make it back to the city council because he was nominated after the 2004 general elections. He lost the BDP primaries to Francistown West MP Tshelang Masisi. Ngoma was a key A-team player in the FCC. Himself a former Francistown mayor, he is widely believed to have orchestrated the ousting of Ignatius Moswaane and the ascension of his prot├®g├®, Buti Billy, to the mayoral seat.
It was widely expected that heavyweights like Angelina Sengalo, Baboni Mosalagae, Sylvia Muzila, Anthony Chebani and former Francistown MP Khumo Maoto would be nominated to parliament to boost the A-team’s fortunes.
As a sitting member of the central committee and incumbent women’s wing chairperson, Sengalo was expected to vie for the deputy mayoral seat under the A-team. She was previously deputy mayor until 2004, when she lost the primaries to Esther Mokgosi. But after bouncing back in the party primaries, she lost the general elections to BCP’s Case Pitshane.
Former Phandu Skelemani campaign manager Anthony Chebani was also expected to challenge Buti Billy for the mayoral seat, but he also fell to BCP’s Ephraim Maiketso. As a Skelemani confidante and former constituency office manager who is widely credited with masterminding Skelemani’s 2004 general election win, Chebani was also widely expected to boost the A-team‘s prospects in the FCC.
Baboni Mosalagae is famous only because she was widely considered to have been ushered into the council candidacy of the Monarch south ward at the expense of barata-phathi’s Ignatius Moswaane in the BDP primaries. She subsequently lost to Moswaane, who was standing as an independent. She was expected to be rewarded for her loyalty to the A-team.
Khumo Maoto, the former Francistown MP who lost to barata-bathi lieutenant Wynter Mmolotsi in the recent BDP primaries, was also expected to be nominated to the FCC. Maoto, together with one Godknows Robi gave Mmolotsi sleepless nights in the run up to the general elections. After failing to vet him out of the primaries, they wrote a letter of complaint to the central committee alleging that Mmolotsi’s actions were not in line with the party rules and regulations. The past immediate BDP deputy secretary general was summoned and given a stern warning. With incessant threats from BCP’s Vain Mamela, in the face of animosity from fellow democrats, Mmolotsi made it to parliament through the skin of his teeth.
Former district commissioner and present day women’s wing deputy chair Sylvia Muzila was also expected to be nominated to the FCC, not least because of her experience in the public service. But Muzila was also shunned. Together with Peter Ngoma, Muzila lost the Francistown west primaries to Masisi. She had a long standing tiff with Ignatius Moswaane, who ahead of the primaries accused her of using her position as DC to push her political campaign.
It is widely expected that, with their numerical advantage, the barata-phathi will finally take control of the FCC.