Multitudes of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members and other members of the public thronged the Matlhabaphiri homestead in GaRanta ward in Molepolole to celebrate the memories of the recently deceased, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri.
Despite the low temperatures, both young people and elders came to bid farewell to GUS, as he was affectioinately known.
Matlhabaphiri’s nephew, Andrew Matlhabaphiri, told the gathering that his uncle left when they had not expected as he only complaining of a flu.
“I was told that he was unwell somewhere at Fairgrounds Mall. I rushed the to find out what was going on. As I kept checking on those who were with him, they told me he had taken his last breath and was taken to the hospital,” he said.
Amongst the guests were the first citizen, Mokgweetsi Masisi accompanied by the first lady Neo Masisi, cabinet ministers, BDP central committee members and legislators.
Masisi described Matlhabaphiri as an honest hardworking efficient servant.
“He had been working hard on the ground with other BDP members in order to win back the Molepolole North constituency for us. Even Mohammed Khan knows as we offered him to join us, but he refused. We now have no option but to win it from him,” he said.
Masisi said they would dedicate their 2019 victory to Matlhabaphiri and other former legislators who worked hard for the party over the years. He called on the members to get on an aggressive
Matlhabaphiri was to represent the BDP in the 2019 general elections. His campaign manager, Olebeng Seitiketso said they were certain of victory. “We had blundered by giving away the constituency to the opposition. We were, however, on track to bring it home. GUS was dedicated to the party and sacrificed his resources for the good of the party,” he said.
Matlhabaphiri’s friend Talita Monnakgotla described him as a dedicated servant of the BDP.
“He believed that we should all sacrifice for the party. He told me I should not charge the party for using my buses to transport members. I listened to him and I always let the party use my buses for free,” she said.
Monnakgotla said Matlhabaphiri had an open door policy and assisted all those who needed his help with love.
At the time of his death, Matlhabaphiri was chairperson of the Political Education and Elections Committee (PEEC). He was notable for his roles in the formation of the Youth Wing of the BDP where he served as its longest serving general secretary and was instrumental in coordinating party choirs. He was first elected MP in 1979.