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Defiant BDP cllrs face possible suspension

Ishmael Mokgethi
FRANCISTOWN: Two Botswana Democratic Party councillors in the Tutume Sub-district council, who defied a party caucus to back Ishmael Mokgethi and Ntebalang John for the position of council chairperson and deputy council chairperson respectively, risk possible expulsion or suspension.

They are Anthony Chebane and Thatayaone Kehitile.

Once a party caucus has taken a decision, council members close ranks and abide by the decision. But Kehitile and Chebane failed to do so. The BDP has in the past either expelled or suspended its members for acting against caucus decisions. 

The duo ascended to the positions of chairperson and deputy council chairperson respectively in the Tutume sub-district, last week.

A BDP caucus had not endorsed both Chebane and Kehitile. However, the two won convincingly during the actual elections for leadership positions at the council. At a BDP caucus, Chebane had teamed up with Kehitile but they lost to Mokgethi and John who ran his campaigns hand in hand with John.

In the actual elections for council leadership positions, 18 out of 29 councillors voted Kehitile as deputy chairperson while John attracted 11 votes. For the position of chairperson, Chebane won by way of 16 votes while 12 councillors went for Mokgethi. There are 18 BDP councillors and 11 from the opposition in the Tutume Sub-district council.

Based on the number of votes, it is a given that a sizeable number of councillors from the BDP voted Chebane and Kehitile at the actual elections for council leadership. But because voting was secret, no one would ever know who from the BDP voted for both Chebane and Kehitile.

It is alleged that Chebane made it clear during the caucus that he would challenge Mokgethi for the position of council chairperson.

Chebane is also said to have expressed reservations about Mokgethi being retained as the council chairperson while he had initially stood for a Parliamentary seat.

Mokgethi, who is a former councillor in Tutume, lost the parliamentary elections in the Nkange constituency against Dr. Never Tshabang of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) last October. He returned to the council through a special nomination.

In addition, Chebane reportedly stated that contesting for a parliamentary office was a clear indication that Mokgethi no longer wanted to serve in any of the council structures. Both Chebane and Mokgethi yesterday maintained that they could not field questions relating to the elections.

Mmegi has since learnt that Mokgethi and John have written complaint letters to the party executive demanding that stern action be taken against Kehitile and Chebane. 

 However, Kehitile told Mmegi that he believes that he had compelling reasons not to abide by the decisions of the party caucus.

“Those who contested against us said

that they have been sent by party elders to contest. I was totally against their idea of saying they are contesting because bagolo (party elders) have sanctioned them to do so. We should be voted based on our credentials not because we enjoy the backing of key party elders. Interestingly, the names of the said elders were not revealed,” said Kehitile.

Kehitile said that based on the results he attained at the elections, it was inevitable that many BDP councillors voted him, which means that they were not entirely against the idea of him being the deputy council chairperson during a party caucus.

He said that they might have been pressured against voting him at the caucus by suggestions that some of his opponents enjoyed the backing of the party’s key leaders.

John told Mmegi that he campaigned cleanly together with Mokgethi. He also confirmed that he has written a complaint letter to the party.

The ruling party has in the past used its caucus to show solidarity on key council agenda items. Once a caucus had taken a decision, council members closed ranks and abided by the decision.

In addition, diverging views are then not entertained in the public. However, of recent there is a trend across the country in which the ruling party members do not show solidarity on key issues relating to council activities.

For this reason, the ruling party has said that it is deeply worried by councillors who constantly defy the party caucus.

“Any breach of the party constitution should worry us. We are still waiting for a report for those who conducted the two caucuses (in Tutume and Francistown.”

“What we have received so far are informal complaints from concerned party members. The reports will inform what action should be taken against those who have breached the two respective caucuses. We are deeply worried by the trend and we will act accordingly to ensure discipline in the party,” BDP executive secretary Ame Makoba told Mmegi this week.

Just a week ago, some BDP councillors connived with the opposition to vote Lesego Kwambala during the mayoral elections in Francistown,

Kwambala eventually lost the elections. In fact, Kwambala might find himself on the wrong side of the BDP constitution because he was not supposed to stand for the elections as the party had already endorsed Godisang Radisigo as its preferred candidate for the mayoral position through a party caucus.




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