SELEBI-PHIKWE: There are indeed no permanent friends in politics as evidenced by the turn of events in Lerala village where bosom buddies have suddenly turned sworn enemies.
Councillor for Lerala East, Kabo Ketshogile, who was also the former vice chairperson of Palapye Administration Authority (PAA), was voted out of the position through a motion of no confidence a fortnight ago fand his seat is to be handed over to a former friend, fellow villager and councillor for Lerala West, Gabagopole Sebele.
The fact that Ketshogile defected from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to join the opposition last November obviously did not sit well with the ruling party, as he was removed from the PAA vice chairpersonship. The fact that his counterpart (Sebele) has now accepted the position has now driven a huge wedge between the two.
They have become rivals who now launch attack after attack against each other. This is surprising because the two had been inseparable when advocating for their villages ranging from leading campaigns to have Kgosi Sello Moroka removed, for developments such as storm water drainage systems, hospital, as well as for a service centre in Lerala. This division would undoubtedly compromise the way they had been working together for their village.
Ketshogile, who became PAA vice chairperson from 2014 till last week, had been holding massive campaigns for Lerala community to join the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and was launched recently. The BDP on the other hand held an indoor meeting with Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi at Lerala Brigade prior to Ketshogile’s launch where there was reportedly a call to recruit Ketshogile and others back to the party.
Ketshogile has now served PAA with a letter from Nsala Attorneys in Palapye ordering them that he be reinstated within five days because he believes his ouster was not procedural. Apparently the administration authority has not taken any action because they believe everything was procedural. Ketshogile said during an interview that the motion of no confidence against him was not that he was incompetent but rather that he was no longer a BDP member.
“I was approached by BDP members to say that I rejoin the party to retain the seat, but I refused,” he said.
Ketshogile believes that Sebele betrayed him by joining a team of councillors who spearheaded his ouster from the vice chairpersonship and subsequently accepting the seat. “I strongly contributed towards Sebele becoming a councillor and if he does not believe that I had any influence then he will see come 2019. He knows me very well from the 2008 primary elections,” he said.
He confirmed that the relationship between them is now sour because he said Sebele started attacking him in council and at some meetings he addressed in the village. He acknowledged that their sour relationship would compromise a lot of issues in the village but said they are duty-bound to work together in development issues for the best interests of the village. “But of course our tone now will be different,” Ketshogile said.
Ketshogile, who had been suspended by the party in the past and was apparently facing another two-year suspension prior to his resignation, said the reason why he left the ruling party was that the party leadership
“The issue of the Lerala chieftaincy had been a hot potato even before I became a councilor, but no action has been taken. I would rather go to prison for the people of Lerala,” he said. He is also facing a lawsuit in which he has been ordered to pay Moroka P100, 000, but has not paid.
“I have appealed the case because I believe it was politically motivated,” he said.
Apparently there are reports that both the Maunatlala branch of BMD and the Umbrella for Democratic Change have approached him to enter the parliamentary race in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency.
Ketshogile said he is aware of the rumours and he is seriously considering the call. He believes that they have made serious inroads as evidenced by the 600 new members they registered and the 300 that were welcomed on Sunday.
When contacted for comment councillor Sebele said he had no intentions to run for the PAA vice chairpersonship until Ketshogile is removed.
“Ketshogile was elected by the ruling party in that position and we agreed in a caucus to replace him. I do not see this as betrayal. He has even launched attacks on me even on social media that he will ensure that I lose in the next elections. In fact, he started attacking me even before I assumed the PAA vice chair position,” he said.
Sebele regretted that the tension now will disadvantage the village and revealed that their rift started before their party primaries and they even fought to contest for the PAA chair in the past.
“He decampaigned me until I lost. He did not vote for me in the chairperson position and I lost, but I voted for him for the vice chairpersonship that he won. In fact, he should now be celebrating that the seat is retained in Lerala, but he takes it personally,” he said.
Sebele said Ketshogile’s move is a threat for the ruling party for now because people are still confused but said people are beginning to understand the whole scenario after the meeting the BDP addressed.
“His statements on the fact that Lerala is undeveloped are a nonstarter because he is the one who failed the village for the past eight years,” he said.
He confirmed a meeting that called for Ketshogile to be recruited back into the party, but said it is difficult to do so because he left under his personal pressures and said if Ketshogile returns to BDP then the two-year suspension takes effect.
He also confirmed that the subcouncil was served with papers to reinstate him, but they had been legally advised that everything was done procedurally. Sebele also said that it does not mean that they were buddies in the past.
“I just pretended to be stupid and turned a blind eye to a lot of things for the sake of peace. I am even fully aware that he planted somebody in my ward to challenge me in the coming primaries to make sure that I lose,” he said.