Gaborone City Mayor Veronica Lesole faces ouster after opposition councilors forced council to adjourn Monday, citing lack of confidence in the mayor.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party mayor has been on a slippery slope in recent months following the defection of BDP councilors to the breakaway Botswana Movement for Democracy, shifting the balance of power in the council away from the ruling party to the opposition.
Led by deputy mayor Haskins Nkayigwa who resigned from the deputy mayorship on Monday morning, other BMD councilors followed suit and resigned their membership of council committees.
“The resignation of twenty-one councilors in these committees is a clear sign that something is wrong. They have rendered the House dysfunctional and therefore needs to be adjourned so that it is kept clean and retain its traditional stable status quo,” argued councilor Oabile Mafunga, who recently with several BDP councilors in Gaborone, including Nkayigwa, defected to join BMD.
“The absence of deputy mayor next to you is a clear sign that something is amiss,” said opposition Botswana Congress Party councilor, Seabelo Thekiso, who tabled a motion to adjourn council proceedings for 14 days as stipulated in the provisions governing the running of the body.
The ruling BDP councilors would, however, not budge, insisting the five day long council sitting had nothing to do with committees and deputy mayor saga.
“This is a full council meeting not a committees level meeting. We have come here for council meeting. Do you want to tell me that if the deputy major is not beside me the council meeting should not continue,” queried the embattled Lesole.
“Without the deputy mayor the council can still have a council meeting. We are not here for education or SHHA committee meetings,” she said.
Councilor Reverend Rupert Hambira argued that the absence of opposition members would not render deficiency at committee level and proposed that the matter be swept under the carpet only to be dealt with “when we come to that phase”.
“Their absence could not be felt particularly that they are sparsely distributed on these committees. One or two individuals on these committees could not adversely affect the quorum,” corroborated BDP’s Matseka, rubbishing the call for adjournment.
With the meeting heading for deadlock, which threatened to spiral into a war of words, Lesole eventually brought to the fore the advice of the council attorney, Linchwe Tlhowe.
But buoyed by their current numerical superiority, the opposition insisted that the motion for adjournment be put to a vote. The motion sailed through on the back of 18 votes by opposition councilors up against 14 BDP councilors.
The opposition triumph is seen as a signal towards Lesole’s ouster.
Thekiso has notified the house that he will table a motion calling for Lesole’s resignation from the post and that fresh elections be held upon commencement of the House in two weeks.