Gaborone City Mayor Kagiso Thutlwe may not finish his term as a mayor; the youngest Mayor ever in the history of Botswana has been receiving an avalanche of criticism from the members of his own party Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
UDC activists are up in arms over what they call Thutlwe’s alleged failure to deliver and breaking ranks with UDC on various issues.
Recently Thutlwe went against UDC position to boycott BOT50 celebrations. Last week opposition members went ballistic on Social media following pictures of Thutlwe stepping out of the Presidential Jet, Ok 1. The Mayor had been part of President Ian Khama’s delegation to Lesotho for the country’s golden jubilee celebrations.
UDC members say the young Mayor is out of his breath and is immensely fascinated by the glitter of close association to power.
They point to the filth of the city as just one example.
Also brought into the mix has been his recent decision to extend operating hours for a few alcohol outlets. These are given as examples of a disorited young man who is overreaching his powers.
In August this year the mayor’s pictures surfaced smoking Cuban cigars as part of his extravagant birthday celebrations at Cigar Lounge in Phakalane. Thutlwe had hosted the who’s who of the entertainment industry including South African celebrities Boity Thulo and Maps Maponyane.
Sources within the movement said there is currently a dispute over Gaborone mayoral position.
At the beginning the agreement was that Botswana National Front (BNF) would only serve one term at the mayoral seat then Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) would serve the next term. But before the current mayor could even finish his term there are those within his party, the BNF who want him out.
“This makes the situation worse, a mandate was taken over the weekend where it was agreed that the matter be discussed and resolved urgently. This decision was taken at a meeting over the weekend attended by councillors and UDC leadership,” sources said.
Sources added that “The mayor’s trip to Lesotho where he accompanied President Ian Khama has aggravated the already fluid situation. For a long time members of the UDC have stated how uncomfortable they are with the current mayor.”
According to UDC activists being in a plane with your fierce political opponent like Khama raises eyebrows.
“Members within the UDC are generally not happy about this move. He was advised against going with President Ian Khama but he was defiant.”
Another source told this publication that UDC leadership and members are worried that there are no developments in Gaborone that residents will remember him for.
While he sees nothing wrong with Thutlwe’s seemingly friendly relationship with President Khama, former Gaborone Mayor Haskins Nkaigwa says Gaborone’s continued developmental challenges would not have allowed him to cosy up to the president. The Gaborone North legislator says he made several futile attempts to meet with the President during his tenure.
“At one point he (Khama) asked me through the Town Clerk to write a letter seeking an appointment with him which was also rejected in writing,” said Nkaigwa.
He says he would never compromise his responsibilities and principles as a Mayor to entertain President Khama. The former Mayor says while Thutlwe has every right to interact with Khama or wine and dine with the local business community, such interactions should always be to the full benefit of the City and its people not his own benefit.
“People want to see tarred roads, streetlights, sewage facilities, and other infrastructural developments taking place in their respective areas,” said Nkaigwa.
He says while the powers of the Mayor have been stripped and handed over to central government the Mayor has to at least be seen to be advocating for developmental changes in the City.
UDC’s Difetlhamolelo Ward Councillor Sesupo Jacobs has also expressed his reservations about the Mayor’s ‘cosy’ relationship with the ruling party especially the President.
“We have a president who does not seem to recognise the presence of Leader of Opposition (LOO) Duma Boko but he chooses to recognise a Mayor who happens to be in the very same political party as the LOO,” Jacobs said.
He added that “It creates an air of uncertainty within the party because we understand the BDP’s modus operandi.”
He made reference to similar behaviour which subsequently led to Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Member of Parliament Bagalatia Arone announcing his resignation from the party and joining the ruling BDP.
Similar comparisons can be made about the current BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane who eventually left the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
Jacobs says while the UDC took a unanimous decision to abstain from activities involving the BOT50 celebrations Thutlwe publicly demonstrated his disdain for the party position by taking full part in the activities.