The relationship between opposition councillors at Gaborone City Council (GCC) is said to be at all-time low as some, especially from the Botswana National Front (BNF), want one of their own - Mayor Kagiso Calvin Thutwe - removed from his position. On the other corner Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) councillors - though they support the move to topple Thutwe - are adamant that it is their turn to choose among themselves who becomes the city’s first citizen.
Thutwe attacked for his taste for finer things
At the centre of the political storm that is about to swipe aside Thutwe is his love for finer things and his close association with the ruling elites which UDC civic leaders say it has alienated him from the bread and butter issues that affect the downtrodden. “Recently he hosted a lavish birthday party at one of the opulent clubs in the leafy estate of Phakalane and was seen puffing a Cuban cigar while the city was dirty,” said one BNF councillor. He said if he was really a true leader he could have celebrated his birthday with ordinary people, probably with orphans but instead he chose a lavish birthday.
Another concern for UDC members is Thutwe’s behaviour outside his mayoral duties which they said it is tarnishing the name of the party. His recent loss at the BNF Youth League elective congress where he was standing as Secretary General is said to be a clear indication that party members are not happy with his leadership. Sources within UDC have revealed that some party leaders recently summoned Thutwe and advised him to reduce his inclinations to the BDP top leaders. GCC is expected to go for mayoral elections next year and according to the party agreement, BMD will assume the leadership assisted by BNF but now some of the latter’s members want the position. One of the people who are reportedly vying for the position is the councillor for Marulamantsi ward Sergeant Yellowman Kgosietsile.
After the 2014 General Elections party leadership had to send Members of Parliament for Gaborone South Haskins Nkaingwa and that for Kanye South Abram Kesupile to calm the situation as Kgosietsile wanted to challenge Thutwe for the mayoral seat. The vocal BNF councillor said he is ready to take over as the mayor if he receives a nod. In the past Kgosietsile has differed with his colleagues especially how they are conducting council and accused them of serving their own interests. Early this year he boycotted a retreat in Jwaneng for GCC councillors, saying it was not necessary as the GCC has failed to take developments to the people.
Kgosietsile once threatened to take GCC to court over its failure to collect refuse in Phase 4 but later withdrew the case after an out of court settlement. One of the councillors, who is also interested in the post, is Deputy Mayor Kagiso Tshekega of Mosekangwetsi ward in Gaborone West. He is a BMD member and according to the agreement between the contracting parties, he is in line to take over. On the other side some section within UDC are rooting for the chairman of the Finance committee Sesupo Jacobs. Those in support of him feel that he is mature and has been exposed to Gaborone finer lifestyle and won’t derail from the party mandate.
GCC Mayor Thutwe is aware of some councillors who are vying for his mayoral post but he is not shaken. He said that his term as mayor is coming to an end next year March and as per the agreement they will have a party caucus to choose a mayor. Asked if he will consider standing again, Thutwe answered in the affirmative. “I believe I am delivering on the mandate that has been given to me by the party and electorates and would like to finish off what I have started in the last two and half years,” he charged. On allegations that he is flirting with the ruling elites, Thutwe rubbished that saying he embraces everyone regardless of their political affiliation. “I am the mayor of Gaborone and not of a particular party and as such I won’t discriminate against anyone,” he said.