Almost a fortnight after Francistown Mayor Sylvia Muzila’s ouster became a flop, Mmegi Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE speaks to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor Cornelius Gopolang who is touted to be the ringleader in the council ‘mutiny’ although he vehemently denied the alleged role
FRANCISTOWN: In a wide-ranging interview this week, Mmegi spoke to Kanana councillor Gopolang, who doesn’t seem regretful of the action taken by councillors in telling Muzila it was her time to go.
“The reality is that all the ruling BDP civic leaders have been concerned. Their concerns relate to the leadership style of the mayor, Muzila which they say is below par,” Gopolang told Mmegi.
Eventually, the BDP councillors resolved that Muzila should resign after 15 of the 18 BDP councillors voted in favour of toppling the mayor.
As the news spread that it was Gopolang who sponsored the motion for Muzila’s ouster, the Kanana councillor was quick to deny that he was motivated by a need to take over as the next mayor.
“I was not eyeing the position of mayor. The plan was to elevate the current deputy mayor Godisang Radisigo to become the mayor and I would be the deputy mayor.
This was the plan of the party caucus and not my singular plan,” he explains. At the BDP caucus meeting, the frustrated Gopolang stated his concerns with the mayor who has a penchant of violating the council standing orders. “I stated that if she was going to deliberately violate the procedures of the council, then that will too much to be tolerated.”
Gopolang emphasised that it was the councillors who resolved that there be a meeting with the mayor, the BDP Francistown region leadership and the councillors.
Since the mayor had issues with one of the councillors, Andy Boatile, she opted to recuse herself and allow her deputy Radisigo to represent her. He says it is a normal practice that the party caucus should come up with resolutions on pertinent issues; hence a resolution was made to oust Muzila.
The BDP caucus according to Gopolang simply told the mayor, “enough was enough with her leadership style”. The main concern of the party caucus was, “what is the public opinion on these issues because it’s not the first time the mayor exchanged bitter words with fellow councillors and ultimately apologised”.
Gopolang quickly remembered Muzila’s clashes with councillors Peter Ngoma, James Kgalajwe and in the latest case, Boatile. “Look, our greatest
He felt the mayor has not been serving the Francistown City Council and the public diligently. Rather, Gopolang strongly felt the mayor was often too personal and disruptive of the council business.
“Now, the problem is that we can’t sit in-house and resolve our differences internally,” he noted, indicating that what worried them most was the public perception about the mayor’s conduct.
Muzila may have apologised for the umpteenth time, but was not enough for Gopolang who retorted in the interview: “When somebody apologises, the person has to be specific on the basis of the apology. She must be very clear of what she had done”.
Raising a concern on the mayor’s leadership in particular, Gopolang indicated that the council has both administrative and political wings, but on the political wing side he was worried that they lacked leadership.
“Look, we are moving towards the end of our (respective) terms as councillors, and we have done absolutely nothing. We just go to the council to approve the salaries of the workers because we lack leadership,” Gopolang challenged Muzila’s leadership.
He said councillors have now resolved to take the council to the people by visiting various wards so that they communicate the issues directly with the people and that the technocrats accompany them.
“At the end of the day, we want to ensure that issues bedevilling the people are attended to immediately because as councillors we lack the political will. So, we are taking services to the people whether the mayor likes it or not.”
Quizzed as to how Gopolang and fellow councillors were going to work with Muzila after all the recent fracas at the party caucus, even though she had apologised, Gopolang answered matter-of-factly: “ Let her conscience talk to her to resign. She is able to see that people want her out”.
Given the right to reply on Gopolang’s articulation of the party caucus proceedings relating to her failed ouster, Muzila’s response to a call from Mmegi was to say: “I am in a meeting”.