LERALA: After his final appeal was rejected by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the suspended Member of Parliament (MP) for Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, Prince Maele has finally decided to represent his area as an independent candidate, commonly known as mokoko in the upcoming general elections.
Maele was slapped with a one-year suspension by the BDP disciplinary hearing committee for allegedly uttering that he supported former president Ian Khama during a Kgotla meeting at Moremi village last November. He was recorded saying “Ke eme tsii le Kgosikgolo”.
Maele appealed his suspension to President Mokgweetsi Masisi saying it was too harsh as it would bar him from contesting in the parliamentary elections and under BDP at the general elections, but to no avail, as the President and his committee rejected his appeal.
Due to the rejection of his appeal, on Saturday Maele consulted his constituents where he narrated the reasons for his suspension and asked for their opinion on the way forward.
In his narration, Maele singled out eight individuals amongst them; Lesang Botsang, Esther Rantsho, Jacob Kedikilwe, Otsweletse Thuto, Bantsi Irweleng, and Setlhabelo Modukanele, whom he defeated during the BDP primary elections, Dikakanyo Mojaphiri and Pinie Morupisi, saying they are the ones who sold him out.
He said they wrote a letter to Tsholetsa House complaining about his support for Khama and suggesting for his removal as MP for the area.
In the letter, Maele said the individuals accused him of dragging the party’s dirty linen in public as well as bringing differences and hatred amongst the party members through his words.
Therefore for that, Maele swore to de-campaign Morupisi and Mojaphiri in all possible ways to ensure that they fail dismally in the general elections. The two are council candidates for Malaka and Gootau areas respectively. He also swore to de-campaign Modukanele and Carter Morupisi who are likely to fill his position as MP candidates for the area.
The former minister of Land Management and Water Sanitation also revealed that because of his love for the party, he tried all he could to say sorry to an extend of apologising to the party president in person and even sending former president Festus Mogae to apologise on his behalf.
He said his constituency and the Letswapo region had also written a letter signed by 50 officials including the branch committee, youth wing, women’s wing all pleading with the party to have mercy on their MP.
They fought tooth and nail for their MP that over 500 of their members had requested to journey to Gaborone to secure their MP’s forgiveness from Masisi if need be.
On that note, Maele told his constituents that he found it fit to give them a platform to decide his fate as he was out of options. Immediately when he announced that he would not be representing the party during the elections, the crowd shouted ‘e togele o ikemele ole mokoko’ which loosely translated to ‘leave the party and stand as an independent candidate’.
He promised to fulfill the wishes of constituents, serving the suspension, resigning from active politics or standing independently.
Maele explained that according to the Tribal Territories Act, Khama is their Kgosikgolo until the law changes, adding that even though as Batswapong have long wanted to have their own Kgosi as an independent tribe, until the law changes, Khama should be honoured and respected as their Kgosi.
As he says he was unfairly removed, Maele warned his constituents not to challenge whoever would be brought to replace him nor vote for him.
Amongst the crowd were area councillors, who endorsed Maele into being an independent candidate.
In the midst was Seolwane councillor, Abitseng Kganetso who told Maele to stand as ‘mokoko oo dikepela’ translated means ‘a cock with claws’ since it was clear that BDP no longer wanted him. She promised Maele her support throughout saying wherever the MP was going she would go with him.
Matolwane councillor, Mmabesi Olopile who got onto the stage with an emotional song, ‘Pelo Robala’ described Maele as a hardworking and capable individual saying he does not need BDP’s shadow for him to succeed. She therefore requested that Maele stand as an independent candidate.
“Maele loved BDP with all his heart, to Lerala/Maunatlala constituents he is still our MP and we are not going to support anyone besides Maele.
Through him, we are going to show the nation that we need our wishes to be respected as Batswapong,” Olopile added. Another constituent, Boetelo Malope from Lerala West said it was not Maele who was suspended, but the area in general because they had never been consulted about their MP’s suspension. He also opted for Maele to stand as mokoko saying the constituents would vote for him as they had elected him in the primary elections. He said even if they were consulted about the suspension they would still reject the new candidate.
Kebaabetswe Sethong, who confessed that he was part of the group that wanted Maele out but refused to sign the letter, also shared the same sentiments as others saying if Kgosikgolo Khama did it, how could Maele remain in a party of hypocrites.
Upon his acceptance as an independent candidate and that Khama promised him his support, constituents removed their jackets in excitement and remained with ‘Eseng mo go Kgosikgolo’ printed t-shirts as if they had been eagerly waiting for the words.
He promised not to join any party until he sees it fit and that he would work wisely with other candidates in the area except those who plotted his downfall.
However, Maele pleaded with Umbrella for Democratic Party members to plead with their candidate, Kabo Ketshogile to stand aside, so as to face the bull alone. He even promised to pay him all the costs he incurred during his campaign should he agree with his plea.