Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkaigwa's post on facebook about Samson Guma ahead of the Phillip-Matante ward by-election has landed him in hot soup, with the latter demanding over P2 million for defamation. Guma's lawyers slapped Nkaigwa with a letter of demand for defamation of character and injuria on Wednesday, two weeks after Nkaigwa had posted in the "All Parties Conference" facebook page about the character of Guma. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) legislator - Nkaigwa, posted; "Guma can only cheat those who don't know him. Jang dijo betsho, le madi lea tsee le dino le dinwe. Madi a bogodu a tshwantse go jewa akere gaa huhulelwa".
In the letter of demand lawyers representing Guma said the statement was understood to mean that he is a dishonest and corrupt public figure and politician who steals public funds for use in personal political campaigns. "The publication of the said defamatory statement was made with the intention to humiliate degrade or impair the dignity, self-esteem and reputation of our client. The publication was an aggression upon client's personality rights, dignity and self-esteem and reputation as a result of which he was aggrieved," the lawyers wrote. They said Guma has suffered damages to his good name and reputation and therefore demands payment of P2, 006, 000 as compensation for defamation and injuria, and legal cost thus far. In the event that Nkaigwa fails to pay the amount in 14 days the lawyers threaten to engage Advocate Sydney Pilane to recover the said damages. The controversial post has since been pulled down, following threat of litigation.
The Guma/Nkaigwa tension caused by a comment on social media is just the tip of an iceberg. Social media accounts of political groupings are commonly used to attack opponents and those holding divergent views. Tensions between political rivals inside and outside political parties have reached dizzying proportions, deteriorating into physical confrontation and verbal abuse in some instances, years before the general elections. There is fear in some quarters that tension, insults and fists fights could become the order of the day in political campaigns as general elections draw near, unless party leaders restore order. For some time now, insults and threats have been traded on social media groups between activists of different political parties. BNFYL Secretary General Arafat Khan was on Thursday attacked on the UDC facebook page and accused of selling out after he posted on his account setting up an appointment with a BDP activist. The attacker said Khan is 'sleeping' with the enemy and has on numerous occasions been seen wining and dining with the ruling party activists. Asked about the accusation Khan replied curtly: "I do not have time to engage pigs".
Many other politicians, including UDC's latest catch Margaret Nasha was insulted by some activists alleged to be belonging to BDP who called her "mmadirabanyana" on social media. The unprecedented tension appears to be mainly felt by prominent members of various political parties. Recently in Francistown, branch Chairperson Ford Moiteela was reported to have manhandled the vociferous Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane. It is alleged that Moiteela slammed the MP against the wall following a heated debate, which was followed by a barrage of fists as Moswaane's supporters retaliated. Philip Matante by-election, the campaign last week took a sinister turn resulting in UDC campaigner, Shathiso Nyatse reporting the recent BDP recruit Ditiro Majadibodu to the police. Nyatse claimed that Majadibodu tried to run her over after clapping her several times.
Recently in Molepolole, a former BDP councillor who has since joined BMD was alleged to be involved in a physical confrontation with a senior member of her party. During the recent BDP National Council, BDP veteran Daniel Kwelagobe publicly had a verbal spat with his former protégé Kabo Morwaeng in the presence of party leadership. The duo is alleged to have questioned the DNA status of each other. Some political activists say tensions are reaching boiling point within the political space because stakes are high in by-elections as 2019 beckons. The politicians fault party leadership of different political parties as they appear to be doing nothing to instill discipline.
President Ian Khama recently addressed party followers at the Molepolole Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) where some sitting councillors in KDC blamed Kabo Morwaeng for destabilising the constituency and sowing seeds of disunity by trying to control Molepolole South, which he used to lead as Branch Chairman. Shima Monageng, who has stood against DK three times in succession but lost, led the onslaught on Morwaeng. It is alleged that the tension in the meeting was so high that Khama instructed both Monageng and Morwaeng to resolve their differences amicably. They were instructed to subsequently inform Khama about the outcome of their reconciliation meeting. Monageng confirmed having met Morwaeng as instructed but declined to divulge what they discussed save to say he did brief the President. "We did meet and we have resolved our differences," said Monageng, party insiders insist that the two do not see eye to eye.