In an interesting development, Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi reportedly forced his way into President Ian Khama’s walkabouts in the constituency, on Thursday afternoon.
Sources who witnessed the drama told how police escorts were shocked when Mmolotsi and his UDC supporters clad in their party colours appeared at the walkabouts to attend the gathering mainly attended by BDP supporters clad in party colours appeared in the midst of Khama’s entourage. One of the officers is reported to have asked them why the UDC had come to attend what was supposed to be a BDP event. The UDC members learnt on Wednesday that Khama would come to their constituency, upon which they started strategising to ensure that they gate-crash the visit. By Thursday noon, they were dressed in their party colours and ready for the afternoon visit by Khama.
The situation is said to have nearly turned into a nightmare as some shocked BDP members wondered where the UDC people had sprung from. Some police officers who were part of the escort are said to have started looking for the BDP parliamentary candidate for Francistown South, Sylvia Muzila. Meanwhile Mmolotsi is said to have hung around and ensured that he is also visible during the visit that saw Khama going to locations of Block Seven, Somerset and others.
Contacted for comment, Mmolotsi said that he had not been invited to the meeting and was shocked to learn from his sources that Khama had a planned official visit to his constituency. He said as it is procedural, the area MP is supposed to be informed and invited to officiate and or accompany the president whenever he is visiting a constituency on official capacity. “He is flouting procedure. Whenever someone is in the opposition, he makes sure he snubs you. We have always had the opposition in our country and it has never happened that a president could do this. I wonder if this means it will be a new way of doing things where elected representatives are marginalised by the president who comes using government resources. He came here with senior government officials. He came here heavily financed by our taxes and then started campaigning for Muzila. He told people that Muzila is the right candidate and that they should vote for her in October. Khama also told the gathering of people that I was troublesome while in the BDP and ran away with their parliamentary seat,” he said.
Mmolotsi said that by snubbing him in his constituency Khama shows that he is intolerant of divergent views. "He will rather use his office as president to flout procedure just because he hates somebody. As long as I may not like some councillors in my constituency I have to work with them and respect them because they were elected by people. He should do that too and respect us in the opposition. This is cheap politicking on his side,” he said.
Attempts to get a comment from Mpho Balopi, the BDP Secretary General, were futile at the time of going to print as he did not answer his cell phone. BDP Communications Committee Chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said on Thursday evening that he was not aware of the president's itinerary on the day but could only confirm that indeed Muzila will represent the party in Francistown south. "I am not circumstanced on the subject," he said, before referring further enquiries to Balopi whose phone rang unanswered throughout.
On the other hand, government spokesman, Dr Jeff Ramsay, said Khama was on an official trip to Goshwe and Borolong villages where he held kgotla meetings in the morning, “and then there was the walkabout in Francistown. I don’t think it was a political party event. He was not dressed in party colours,” he said.