Saturday, January 16, 2021

Magama on slippery ground as Old Naledi braces for primaries

Botswana National front MP, Akanyang Magama, seems to be taking the high road on his attack against challenger, Tebogo Sebego, and the low road on issues affecting Old Naledi residents, hardly three weeks before their primary elections, which are set to begin around February 9.

This has spawned a rivalry between the two BNF parliamentary hopefuls.
A caucus committee that represents residents of Old Naledi is being accused by supporters of Magama, the incumbent Member of Parliament, of hiding behind grievances of the people of Old Naledi, in order to launch Sebego, their preferred candidate who they claim is a loyalist of Moupo. The committee maintains it has no ulterior motives.

Lister Mandedu, chairperson of the Village Development Committee, said the Committee which claims to represent the interests of the people of Old Naledi, who are affected by relocation and the envisaged project on upgrading of infrastructure at Old Naledi are, in fact, part of a plot to remove Magama as punishment for having been on the wrong side of the party divide, and especially because he publicly spoke out against the BNF President’s indebtedness.

Additionally, he said that the committee’s establishment defied the Village structures, which he said were facilitative of the consultation between the Council and Department of Lands officials on the one hand and the residents on the other.

Additionally, he said, the fact that the conveners of the committee were throughout the discussions with authorities, involved, when it came to point where things were out of order, it was only proper that they should have reverted to the VDCs so as to take others on board. Instead, they chose the approach which, in their (protest committee) opinion, would make them appear the messiahs. He said it was improper to take advantage of people’s circumstances.

Investigations conducted by The Sunday Standard revealed that Mandedu is, in fact, set to contest the primaries as a BNF candidate, and is alleged to be a Magama favourite. It has also been established on authority that Sebego did attend a meeting with the Council officials, although it was supposed to be between the Committee and the Council authorities.

When confronted about the issue he said he was not invited, but attended because their plot which is at 08 in the area is affected. Additionally, he said, “I am committed to ensuring that we do everything within the law to set things right.”

Although he admitted he has submitted his name to the BNF election office, he said that was not his primary motivation.

“What people must know is that I was born and bred in Old Naledi.”
Mosweu Lebentle, spokesman for the committee, in refuting the charge, said that one doesn’t need to go far to believe them. He pointed to a number of plots which had been marked to be cut, almost in twain, yet they are not included in the relocation list so much that even with their compensation would not have enough space to put a house. Furthermore, he said, for those who are relocating, their compensations cannot afford them a house required by the town buildings regulations in Block 7.

However, when asked by Sunday Standard to say the specific number of people they represent, he said that what matters is that they wanted to prevent the Council from treating people as individuals with intent to exploit their ignorance. Concerning Sebego, Lebentlele said, “Although we are aware of his aspirations, as far as the committee is concerned he is a resident of Old Naledi.”

Magama, on the other hand, expressed concern the project is taking long, with the risk Naledi is being left behind, in the basic infrastructure developments. He acknowledged there are tensions but was not keen to point fingers.


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