Residents of Ledumadumane in Mogoditshane have launched a scathing war of words against both their area councillor and Village Development Committee (VDC) chairperson accusing them of maladministration.
The two, councillor Otlaadisa Kgwatalala and VDC chairperson, Kingston Mmolawa, are accused of staging developments in the area, corruption and nepotism amongst other charges.
Villagers accuse the duo of knowing the whereabouts of the missing five residential plots out of the 14 that were identified as open spaces in the area. They accuse the duo of selling the five unaccounted for plots for their own benefit.
Residents also accuse them of allocating tenders of certain developments in the area to their relatives and friends for their own benefit. They gave an example of the ongoing two projects of paving two internal roads in the area, which tender Kgwatalala’s son and others have won. They say by virtue of this, nepotism is at play.
Residents recently approached an elder of the village and headman of record, Keabetswe Dihutso for reconciliation on Friday, organised at a kgotla meeting in an effort to resolve the disputes.
Given the opportunity to voice out their concerns residents pointed accusing fingers at Kgwatalala and Mmolawa, pleading with Dihutso to intervene on the matter for the sake of the village’s development.
Kewaone Raphoto said residents were not pleased with how things were done in the area and decided to call for Dihutso’s intervention on the matter, especially that VDC was not visible on the ground whilst they are the ones who spearheaded the area’s developments.
“Residents are concerned about the progress of the construction of internal roads in the area. It is behind schedule. We also want clarity on the open spaces within the area as well,” Raphoto said.
Another resident, Kumbulani Palalani said it appears that some people who have already developed the alleged plots were not awarded accordingly, because the entire VDC was not involved.
For his part, Oupa Moipolai shared the same sentiments accusing the duo of maladministration, stating that the two did not respect the area headman, Base Ramatlapeng because they did as they pleased in his kgotla.
He also expressed concern, accusing the village councillor of spreading rumours that the area headman is politically influenced. “The headman represents us all despite our political differences. We should all respect him, but that is not the case here as the duo does as it pleases here. We decided to summon them as residents so you can help us call the two men to order because they do not respect our headman,” Moipolai said.
Moipolai said when they complained about how things are done, they are accused of being politicians whilst talking about their area developments.
“These two have been voted into their position by us as residents and as such they should at all times consult residents before taking any decision but that seems not to be the case. We call for peace and unity in this area. Let us all, despite the position we hold, respect the area Kgosi,” Moipolai said.
Popie Nfolwe echoed the other residents’ sentiments that the duo does not respect its area Kgosi and should be called to order.
“Ke lemogile gore tshoso-e-rweleng gola fa ke banna baba bedi ba, tota sese diragalang se ke sepolotiki fela. I have not been coming to this kgotla for a while now because Kgwatalala once accused me of theft when I was a member of the VDC. As we speak VDC members are fighting amongst themselves and failing to bring developments to the village,” she said.
Nfolwe raised concern that the contractor that was to pave the road that passes at the back of the Kgotla has abandoned the 480-metre road project leaving it incomplete to jump on another similar project the other side of the location.
“We do not know when the tenders for the two projects were advertised and what procedures were used for allocation of the projects. It shows that there was no transparency at all, and as residents we are not pleased with that,” Nfolwe said.
VDC vice chairperson, Patricia Lebang commented conceding that there is no unity amongst them as VDC. She said it’s been eight months since they were voted into office but they have not done anything because there is no unity amongst them, blaming their chairperson Mmolawa.
“Mmolawa is in control of everything. He takes decisions alone without involving us as members. Rele VDC rea lwa, we are divided and as such we are failing to bring developments to the area. We even fail to hold and conclude a scheduled meeting because of our internal disputes,” she said.
Another VDC member Serwalo Mosutlhane shared similar sentiments that they are not at peace putting the blame on their chairperson who throughout the meeting sat quietly listening to residents and VDC members’ accusations.
“In our meeting we discuss the agenda, but he always comes with his and forces us to follow it when we disagree. As a result we quarrel and the meetings end abruptly all the time before they even start. Re na le mathata a matona re le VDC mme mathata a rona ke mogolwane wa rona, ga gona tirisano mmogo ebile gare tlotlane. Rre yo gake mo sebe keyo fa kare o batla re tseela morafe ditswetso fare mmolelela gore go dira jaalo ga goa siama re molato,” Mosutlhane said, pointing to the VDC chairperson.
Mosutlhane shared other residents’ concerns of not knowing how the tender of the two projects was conducted. She said the residents had requested VDC to construct a day care centre, but it appears that there are some people who want to use that plot for something else.
“The issue of a day care centre is the one that brought disputes between Ramatlapeng and the area councillor when he (Ramatlapeng) wanted to know what has delayed the construction of the centre. This demonstrates that they do as they please. Our chair is blocking developments in this area, some of us even want to withdraw from the VDC membership because of his behaviour. He even has the power to influence social workers on how to do things in this area,” Mosutlhane said.
Mosutlhane said they hear out of 14 plots, there are only nine plots left and want to know why five plots are not accounted for and calling for an investigation to into how the beneficiaries of those plots acquired them.
Commenting on residents’ concerns, Dihutso called for peace and unity amongst residents and the authorities.
Dihutso vowed that very soon he would call another kgotla meeting in which he will request the district commissioner and the Kgweneng council chairperson’s attendance so that they can help him address residents’ concerns.
“I am pleading with you all to respect Kgosi Ramatlapeng and his authority. Do not control this kgotla as alleged. There should be consultations between residents, VDC and area councillor. VDC ke yone palamente ya motse, but when there is no unity amongst them it’s a huge problem because there will be no developments,” Dihutso said.
Asked to do a vote of thanks Kgwatalala wanted to respond to residents’ concerns something that nearly caused chaos as residents stood up to disperse whilst he was talking, saying he does not respect Dihutso’s resolution.
Reached for comment at the end of the meeting, Kgwatalala said he was not happy that Dihutso refused to give him the opportunity to respond to residents’ accusations.
“This accusations are politically influenced because all of the people who accuse me are members of the opposition party. Tendering of the projects was done in the open and my son, an engineer by profession, happened to have won the tender without favoritism as alleged. I do not know anything of the open spaces as alleged and I am not happy that Ramatlapeng accuse me and Mmolawa of knowing anything about them. He also accuses me of refusing to allow him to hold kgotla meetings to announce to the residents the progress of the projects in the area,” Kgwatalala said, adding that it could not be further from the truth.
Kgwatalala went on to accuse Ramatlapeng of being politically influenced, stating that two months back he recorded Ramatlapeng in a WhatsApp group conversation where he said that “he plans to campaign as mokoko against me in the coming general elections”.
“Mo ke sepolotiki fela, ke senngwa leina. It’s true I once advised Ramatlapeng not to hold a kgotla meeting on progress of projects because he would need answers that could only be provided by VDC and council and in my absence he would struggle without answers.” “He is the one who is politically influenced because I once took him to court after he took the voters’ roll campaigning for the opposition party and at that time he was struck off the voters’ roll,” Kgwatalala said. For his part, Mmolawa the VDC chairperson said he was not surprised by the allegations because it is that time of the year where everyone wants to tarnish the opponent’s name pointing that as political.
“It was a plot to tarnish my name because it is not a secret in the area I am a member of the ruling party. All of the people who stood up commenting were members of UDC, there was no substance in what they were saying. I even suspect the two Dikgosi also had an agenda because I was attacked and denied the opportunity to respond to the allegations. I was shocked by how they (two dikgosi) handled the matter,” said Mmolawa. Mmolawa conceded they are divided as VDC stating that the division is caused by their political differences. “Other VDC members are members of the opposition party, there is nothing that I do that pleases them, everything that I do for the sake of the community they take it as politically influenced.
We are failing because they do not want to separate politics from representing the interests of the community. I had thought will be given the opportunity to respond but unfortunately that didn’t happened,” he said.He said the allegations that he knows something about the opens spaces in the area is just malice spread by UDC members tarnishing his name just because they do not support the same political party.
“They did so to tarnish my name and as we are approaching the general elections it is just a ploy to attract electorates to their party. Those open spaces belongs to council, how can I steal them, it was just a defamation of character made UDC members,” he said.