Multitudes of mourners, amongst them Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and former vice president, Ponatshego Kedikilwe were in Molepolole, on Saturday to pay their last respects to former assistant minister and diplomat, Gaotlhaetse Utlwang Sankoloba Matlhabaphiri.
Even though the temperatures were too low as various people spoke of Matlhabaphiri’s good deeds, multitudes from across the political divide found it befitting to stay put in the cold.
All speakers described Matlhabaphiri as loving to his family, musically gifted, and above all a true Botswana Democratic Party member. Matlhabaphiri passed away on June 28, 2018. He is said to have complained of flu and lost his life at a pharmacy at the Fairgrounds Mall.
Reading a message of condolence from President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Tsogwane said Matlhabaphiri served Botswana with dedication and distinction in various capacities, when he started his career in 1971.
He said the nation would forever be grateful for his service to the nation throughout his life. Matlhabaphiri’s sister Gaone Mosinyi said all in the family loved his brother as he united them with his kind heart.
“He was very fun to be around and helped whoever needed his help. He always made sure that he contributed when there is something being done by a family member. “He also loved the BDP dearly and always sang BDP songs as he was also a great singer,” she said.
Longest serving councillor in the country, Lesego Raditanka, praised Matlhabaphiri for contributing to his political career.
“He pushed me to realise that I could be able to do some things that
Another friend, Pono Moatlhodi said their Youth Wing was the best ever because of Matlhabaphiri’s dedication as general secretary. “We have lost a good man. We were very close friends and I took his family as mine as he took mine as his.
“We loved music and he led us to Radio Botswana for our first recording. He put his all in whatever he did and always got the results,” he said. Opposition veteran, Michael Dingake also praised Matlhabaphiri as a good man. “He once accommodated me while he was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. It did not matter that I was from an opposition party. “Even when we faced off for Gaborone Central in 1994, our campaigns were issue-based and even after I defeated him we remained friends,” he said. At the time of his death, Matlhabaphiri was chairperson of the Political Education and Elections Committee.
He was notable for his roles in 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 1989.