A decision by Minister of Trade and Industry Dorcus Malesu to launch her election campaign on the same day as the Machaneng annual agricultural show has divided the Sefhare-Ramokgonami Constituency. The constituency is divided between Makgato-Malesu and the Machaneng Agric Show Committee with accusations and counter-accusations flying fast and thick. Sources claim that Malesu requested the committee to postpone the Agriculture show that is held annually every last week of July.
“The committee is of the view that it is a tradition that the Machaneng Agric Show is held annually every last week of July and that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had to schedule their launch on the same date surprised stakeholders as it goes on to show that they do not encourage public participation on public events”, a committee member told Sunday Standard. The committee argues that shifting a public event to give way to a partisan activity would set a bad precedent, and that Malesu should re-schedule her launch. Sources close to Malesu, on the other hand told this publication that the issue has been discussed at the Agric Show Committee level but never reached Malesu. “The Agric Show committee fear less participation in this year’s show. We gathered that they wanted to approach Malesu to ask her to postpone her launch but they are cowards, they never did.
The main committee’s fear is that if Malesu’s launch continues there will be less participation at the Agric Show because people will be attracted by entertainment in Malesu’s launch where there will be free music instead of going to the Agricultural show and paying an entry fee. Asked to comment on the matter the chairman of the Machaneg Agriculture Show denied knowledge of the issue. “I am not aware of such an issue. What I know is that the annual Agric Show will be held on the 26 of July, the last week of July as is tradition. We are having the next meeting on the 24th as the committee members to discuss the preparation of the show. I have never heard of such an issue,” he said. Minister of Trade and Industry also BDP candidate for Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency, Malesu declined to comment saying, “these are petty issues, I am not going to comment on petty issues.”
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate in the area, Kesitegile Gobotswang said the decision to hold the show on the 26th July was taken at a general meeting of stakeholders. Therefore the show committee has no authority to change the decision of the general meeting. The issue was never raised at the general meeting which I was part of. Unfortunately we have observed with great concern an attempt to politicise the Agricultural Show by the ruling party functionaries masquerading as show committee,” he said. An observer in the area said the issue is likely to affect the Agriculture show most, “this is entertainment in the form of music competing with an exhibition. Music on its own is a crowd puller. The people in the area already know who will be performing at the launch and are excited. It is important for the two parties to meet and reach an agreement. It’s all about setting egos aside.