Serowe Sub Cllrs not moved by Minister's order

Minister Frans Van De Westhuizen
Minister Frans Van De Westhuizen

SEROWE: Serowe sub-district council has vowed to stand by the newly elected chairperson Lesedi Leepetswe, despite the minister of Minister of Local Government and Rural Development reinstating the ousted chairperson Mpho Kooreme.

Kooreme was recently removed through a motion of no confidence where out of the 22 members of the sub-district council house, 17 voted against him. He was supported by only five. 

The House then elected Leepetswe to lead the council until the general elections. Leepetswe served briefly before he was removed by an order from the minister Frans Van De Westhuizen. 

In a letter stamped ‘Confidential’ addressed to the Central District Council chairperson, Peter Williams, the van De Westhuizen ordered that Kooreme be reinstated as the chairperson of the Serowe Administrative Authority (SAA). 

The minister noted the report presented to him by the council secretary that detailed the deliberations, which resulted in the resolution to oust Kooreme were not done in the interest of the public or the nation. 

“That being the case, I have taken a decision to reject the resolution and duly reinstate the chairperson of the Serowe Administrative Authority with immediate effect,” the letter stated. 

Earlier this week, CDC chairperson Peter Williams read the letter to the House. He denied the councillors a floor to deliberate in the matter. Williams said it was a directive that he was inclined to implement. 

“I order that honourable Leepetswe step down from the chairpersonship with immediate effect. I shall take no comments on this matter. It is a directive from the minister.” 

The announcement caused a momentous disorder in the House. Leepetswe duly made way for Kooreme. However, patches of Serowe sub-district members walked out of the council. 

In random interviews with civic leaders, they remarked their displeasure at the minister’s resolve. 

Leepetswe, whose chairpersonship was briefly cut, did not hide his displeasure. He said as the standing chairperson he deserved to be notified before being indecently kicked out. He said the minister’s order was not clear. 

“This communiqué should show the facts that we omitted or we failed to address when we reached the decision. Instead, the letter shows only the powers of the minister,” he said.

“It leaves us with question marks. I believe we followed all the procedures until endorsement. I am surprised the minister saw it otherwise but I will also seek legal advice." 

Serowe West councillor, Goatilwe Omphile who tabled the motion that removed Kooreme, held that their position would not change. He said they would stand by their collective decision and would not have a chairperson who renders their council ungovernable. 

“It is not a first such issue occurred in councils and the minister never responded in this manner. We are left to speculate that people believe the allegations of factions Kooreme purports on radios and maybe this is reprisal against our house to his allegations,” said Omphile. 

He noted that as a sub council they hold the incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi in high regard. He rubbished claims that their decision was based on factional lines. Councilor Katholo Tapologo of Tshimoyapula/Majwanaadipitse said the minister was setting up fire. He said when the House removed Kooreme it showed respect and did not want to dress him down. 

He stated that they acted within their rights when ejecting the chairperson and electing another. He said they would stick with their decision. 

Tapologo indicated that it would be an uphill task for Kooreme to lead the House that finds him unfit for the top chair. He said a chairperson is elected by the councillors and evicted by them. 

“The minister cannot impose a chairperson on anybody. Our chairperson (Leepetswe) was elected by the sub-council and endorsed by the CDC,” he said. 

Councillor Kadimo Oremeng of Mogorosi/Thabala was totally against the decision of the minister. He said he failed to understand what van De Westhuizen meant when he mentioned the resolution was not taken in the interest of the public. 

He said the move would render their House ungovernable adding that if the minister wanted clarity he could have approached the house, either in writing or a direct meeting before he reversed their decision. 

“We are the public. We represent people, and we are saying that the chairperson is redundant and has failed our people and us. What more does the minister want?” he quipped.

Kooreme, however, felt justice has been served. Since he was never given "substantial reasons" he believed his colleagues abused their powers, hence he wrote to the minister. 

The councillor for Swaneng noted his colleagues never showed disgruntlement with him and his position. He said it took only one weekend (that Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Ian Khama addressed a gathering at the Lady Khama Memorial hall) for their relationship to sour. 

“I wrote to the minister to assist me because I felt the procedure was not right. I was ready for whatever the outcome. I would have accepted if the minister felt otherwise,” he said. 

When quizzed how he would lead a House that had turned against him, Kooreme said, “There are processes and procedures. We have standing orders and the Local Government Act. The council does not run on my feelings or those of any other person. I will run the council as per those standing orders”.

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