On Tuesday, Gaborone City mayor, Kagiso Thutlwe defended his position against a defiant councillor Rhoda Sekgororoane.
When he retained the seat, the youthful councillor of the Botswana National Front bloc of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ensured that he continued the journey he started in 2014, to the next general elections of 2019.
The mayoral election was not free from controversy as some senior members of the UDC had to step in to ensure that the coalition caucus’ preferred candidate is not challenged from within. Of course, the decision did not go down well with Sekgororoane of UDC coalition partner, Botswana Movement for Democracy, who challenged the caucus decision, and stood and lost against Thutlwe.
It is not unusual for political parties to caucus and nominate a preferred candidate. This act however seems to be found wanting. Leaders are forced to toe the party line, denying them the opportunity to exercise their right to choose the right person whose credentials and work ethic they know.
Thutlwe inherited a city with a headache of problems - livestock competing for already congested roads with motorists as if they too want to go shopping, uncollected litter and many other ills. Roads leading into the city, internal roads have not been upgraded in more than five years and there seem to be no intention to speed up any pending developments.
The city, which is a host to a billion Pula diamond processing centre and supposedly fastest growing in Africa, has not significantly transformed in the last four years and there is not much promise in that regard.
The city council has no money, and the bite of the low budget allocation has been felt during Thutlwe’s term especially. We preach diversity at every platform
Commodity prices are unpredictable and we can bear testimony to that, as we have seen our economy struggle due to low commodity prices in the global market. The retrenchments, even of the BCL and Tati Nickel Mines in other towns, and growing unemployment hits hard on the capital as many flock to Gaborone in search of work. These and many other challenges fall on the lean shoulders of the youthful Mayor and fellow councillors.
We believe that at his age, the Mayor has many ambitions, energy and ideas that can only materialise if the Government commits itself to developing the capital city. Gaborone is the heartbeat of Botswana and it should be as attractive and hospitable as one can possibly imagine. International businesspeople, investors and other foreign travellers, in the majority of cases, come do business in the capital or transit through.
Gaborone, therefore has to have a robust transformation to include infrastructure development, be free of roaming cattle and have good public transport system. What prevails is a stagnant and dull city whose little sparkle flickers out like a candle in the wind when the sun sets. Congratulation are in order for victorious Thutlwe. Mmegi wishes him well in his final term.
“It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the feeling of a city like Venice, where everything is just beautiful colour and gorgeous buildings that are so peaceful. You can roam around and get lost in the labyrinth.”
- Nanette Lepore