Sunday, May 26, 2024

Khama’s visit in Molepolole leaves more questions than answers

President Ian Khama’s visit to Molepolole North on Thursday left residents with more questions than answers. In what came across as a choreographed affair, councilors aligned to area Member of Parliament Gaotlhaetse who were directing proceedings during the meetings would not entertain enquiries from some members of the public.

The meetings were part of Khama’s reported attempt to prop up political support for Matlhabaphiri whose area was recently identified by a confidential Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) report as one of the constituencies that is likely to be won by the opposition. In what is reported to have been staged meetings, residents who were eager to challenge President Khama to address their concerns were told that they should register their names and the Office of the President would contact them later.

A number of questions from members of the public in the meetings addresses by President Khama in Mahokotswane, Boribamo and Boswelakoko wards were not answered, and councilors directing the meetings were at pains reasoning that the questions were not wavered or brushed off but would be addressed at a later stage through the Office of the President. In Mahokotswane ward, nominated Councilor and Matlhabaphiri’s deputy campaign manager Veronica Leshomo directed the proceedings. The councilor for the area, Otto Keipeile who defected from the BDP to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was not included in the program.

In Boribamo ward, the proceedings were directed by councilor Pelaelo Mathwanye while the councilor for the ward Jimmy Motlalekgosi only watched from the sidelines. In Boswelakoko ward, the BDP’s council candidate for the area Bashi Kgakge’s campaign manager Boiki Sibisibi directed the proceedings while the area’s councilor Seka Kgosiemang was sidelined. Some councilors for the wards say they were disappointed that the kgotla meetings were politicized. Councilor Moses Mmualefe of Boribamo West said he was shocked to learn that the head teacher for Boribamo Primary School who was supposed to direct proceedings was removed from the program on the day President Khama addressed the meeting.

He said when some people enquired why the head teacher was removed from the program “they were told by officers from the District Commissioners’ office that for security reasons they will not get a response for that question.” He said some dikgosana and Village Development Committee (VDC) members intend to petition Matlhabaphiri “for politicizing a kgotla meeting.” “People who normally arrange for such meetings are dikgosana and members of the VDC. But we were shocked when councilor Pelaelo Mathwanye who does not belong to that ward for that matter was the one directing the proceedings,” said Mmualefe. Mmualefe added that “that the meeting was staged because only a few were allowed to ask questions while a considerable number of people were told to queue and register their names and contacts after they were told that they would be contacted by the Office of the President.”

Councilor Keipeile said they had long waited for President Khama to respond to a petition that they had sent to his office but were disappointed on Thursday when they were not given the opportunity to enquire about the status of that petition. “The meeting was a political campaign and it was not aimed at interacting with residents to hear the challenges they face in their area. Only those who are supporters of Matlhabaphiri were given an opportunity to ask questions,” he said.

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