It is an issue nobody would want to be seen to be publicly associated with.
But off the camera and off the record, it is a case that has no shortage of advocates: Mmadinare Village is tired of being represented by outsiders.
“We thank all those who have in the past come to our assistance, but we think we can now take care of ourselves,” says a buoyant civil servant who I have known for over twenty years. Like many others holding his view, he would not allow his name to go on paper.
A growing number of sons and daughters of Mmadinare village in the Central District say that it is time the constituency Member of Parliament for the area came from their village.
While their grievances are varied and manifold the proponents have one thing in common – for fear of a backlash, they will not want the quotes directly attributed to them.
Even though the parliamentary constituency bears the name of their village, it has not escaped their attention that since independence their Members of Parliament have come from outside their village.
History shows that while Mmadinare was one of the original 1965 constituencies, its former appendages like Bobonong and Selibe Phikwe have since marched past it.
At independence, the Member of Parliament for Mmadinare was Amos Manyangwa Dambe who was from Marapong in the North East District.
When Dambe left the scene he was succeeded by Kebatlamang Pitseeyosi Morake who was himself from Tonota.
After Morake came the incumbent Member of Parliament, Ponatshego Hallellujah Kedikilwe – a native of Sehophe.
Now Vice President, Kedikilwe has been Member of Parliament since 1984. After thirty years he has since announced that he will not be seeking re-election at next year’s General Elections.
For villagers of Mmadinare Village, the looming primary elections for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, coupled with the retirement of the long serving Kedikilwe has set tongues wagging.
With General Elections due next year, Mmadinare villagers are sensing blood. And for them an unprecedented opportunity now exists for them to correct a historic “injustice”.
They want Member of Parliament for Mmadinare constituency to come from Mmadinare; born and bred.
“Over the years, an impression has been created that sons and daughters of Mmadinare are not competent enough. That has to be corrected,” said a senior civil servant who is himself part of the lobby to push Mmadinare to choose the son of the soil.
He said while the MP’s office is in the village, the villagers have not fully enjoyed the attendant benefits as the MP has always resided elsewhere.
“The MP staying outside the nerve centre of his constituency does not make sense. That has to change, if not for this village then at least for the sake of productivity,” said the civil servant, who did not want to be named for fear of being seen to meddle in politics.
Mmadinare parliamentary constituency is made up of fourteen villages and statistics are starkly overwhelming in that by far Mmadinare Village is the biggest, accounting for over half of the constituents.
While Mmadinare constituency is a strong heartland of the ruling BDP, even under the party rules, the Mmadinare lobby will not have it easy.
Under the party’s loose electoral guidelines, every card carrying member can contest anywhere as long as they can show some link with the party cells in the constituency, however vague.
Though they would not readily admit it, for the Mmadinare Lobby it would seem like the elephant in the room is the candidacy of Gloria Somolekae, a Specially Elected Member of Parliament and junior minister in the presidency who will have to find a substantive parliamentary constituency if she is to remain relevant beyond the life of the current parliament life.
The fact that Dr Somolekae is from Kgagodi (one of the smaller villagers that make up Mmadinare constituency) and is in many reports touted as the favourite for party leaders at BDP head office goes against all that the Mmadinare Lobby stands for.
For them, Dr Somolekae is the latest example of yet another outsider in a long history of external politicians who, with the help of party head office, are ever so ready to put themselves on a higher pedestal as they take advantage of Mmadinare villagers’ reluctance to back their own.
In an interview Dr Somolekae brushed off a suggestion that it is now Mmadinare village’s turn. “The way our democracy has progressed is such that people looking for merit. Everybody is equal under the BDP rules.”
But then is it true that she is Kedikilwe’s anointed successor? “I am aware of those allegations. Why should he endorse me? I find it patronising that people should say so when I am a leader in my own right. Also I do not know where that comes from because I have never addressed a single meeting where the Vice President was present. If anything why wouldn’t he endorse somebody from his home village of Sefhophe?” asked Somolekae.
Under the circumstances, the only hope for Mmadinare Lobby has been Motamorago Gaseitsewe, who is regarded as a true blue across the village.
But as fate would have it, Gaseitsewe is an employee of BCL, which, under its internal rules, explicitly prohibits political activism. As a result, Gaseitsewe has not made a decision. Under BCL’s strict rules should he choose to stand he will have to resign from BCL, a decision that could see him staying without a regular job until he goes to parliament, assuming he is able to brush aside the Somolekae hurdle that is.
“I have been approached, but under BCL rules I will have to resign,” said Gaseitsewe.
When Sunday Standard talked to him he stressed he had not applied to the BDP head office for him to be considered as a candidate. He was aware that time was running out for him. As a matter of fact he was busy making preparations to bury his father.
Should Gaseitsewe fail to meet the January 31 deadline, the burden of reversing what Mmadinare Lobby see as historical injustices would fall on Kefentse Mzwinila, a councillor and former youth leader whose relationship with the BDP has been tumultuous, to put it charitably.
“I have already expressed interest. But as you should know, under the current BDP electoral rules I cannot discuss this matter beyond telling you that I am interested,” said the United States trained psychologist.
Other distant dark horses in the race who, given the prevailing dynamics, would be acceptable to the Mmadinare Lobby are Moseki Moseki and Chris Lejowa, both of them “sons of the soil” who have also registered interest with the BDP electoral commission.