An Umbrella for Democratic Change councillor for Tonota South East, Gaehele Sdombo has accused acting education minister, Mokgweetsi Masisi of abusing his office to campaign for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
Sdombo, whose ward includes Tonota College of Education, said that they were shocked when on Tuesday; Masisi came unannounced and held an impromptu meeting with students and the management of the teaching institution to address some issues that have become a concern at the school.
The students at the school have been complaining bitterly over a lot of issues concerning their living conditions. They complained they were forced to share few ablutions which made it quite difficult; and also that there was no hot water in the showers hence they only had cold water. Others, according to Sdombo, are self-sponsored students (about 85 students) who were promised that they would be sponsored once they passed their first year, but it seems government reneged on the promise. The bedding is also said to be a cause for concern.
In what is clearly a turf war, Sdombo said that he and Pono Moatlhodi, a parliamentary candidate for Tonota, who is also the former’s UDC comrade, have been attending to the concerns of the students over some weeks now. At one time, revealed Sdombo, they had to chase away a BDP activist who is one of the campaign managers for the party’s parliamentary candidate, Thapelo Olopeng.
“On Monday, we were in a meeting with the students and this BDP activist suddenly took out her cellular phone and called Olopeng. We got angry and chased her out of the meeting. However it has become clear now, after the coming of the minister here, that he could have been called by BDP activists, who have an interest in this ward. What is even amazing is that while Moatlhodi was talking to a Ministry of Education official (name withheld) who promised, some well-connected people in the BDP were talking to the education minister himself who wasted no time and came here on short notice,” said the councillor.
Asked why he thinks Masisi was on a party mission and not on official duty, Sdombo said the minister arrived in his black official car and headed for the BDP local office, which is in the vicinity of TCE and later came walking towards the staffroom where he addressed the students and management of the school.
“He told the students that he will resolve their issues, but was very quick to tell them that this ward has no representative and urged them to vote for the BDP council candidate and MP hopeful,” said Sdombo.
However Masisi has denied ever asking the students to vote for the BDP or talking politics with them. “Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a figment of a fertile imagination,” said Masisi.