Gaborone City Council Mayor Kagiso Thutwe survived a motion of no confidence from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillors by a whisker after allegations of possible misconduct and corruption in his council. When council’s end of year session started last week, councillors who are allegedly fed up with his conduct, especially his extravagant lifestyle were ready to table a motion of no confidence but party leaders at UDC pleaded with them against doing that. According to one UDC councillor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the party highlighted to them that they cannot pass the motion of no confidence as they didn’t follow the right procedure. “The mayor was nominated through the party caucus and the party leadership asked us to meet with them to discuss our concerns first,” revealed the councillor. At the centre of the political fallout is the failure by the mayor to present the financial report on the Mayor’s Marathon and Mayor’s football tournament. The council’s finance and estimate committee chaired by Sesupo Jacobs asked him to present the report to their committee but promised to do the presentation during the mayor’s speech. The councillors were left with an egg on their faces as Thutwe failed to include the financial report on activities he has undertaken as part of his office.
Councillors reject financial report
When he finally presented the report on Tuesday, councillors rejected it, saying it was too shallow and that council funds were spent without approval from the councillors. On the Mayor’s Five Aside tournament GCC spent P17, 300 for the use of the Bank of Botswana Grounds and P10, 365. 09 as overtime for the 10 officers engaged during the tournament. He said that no profit was made from the tournament as registration fees and gate takings were used as running costs. On the Mayor’s Ride GCC incurred P30, 000 which was for meals for guests which was hosted at Grand palm Hotel. Another event that caused uproar among the civic leaders was Mayor’s Cup tournament which pitted four football teams and was sponsored at the tune of P400, 000. Asked who the sponsor was, Thutwe refused to divulge the name of the sponsor. The council incurred P42, 250.00 and in the report the mayor failed to state how much they have made from the tournament. The much talked about Mayor’s Marathon which received lot of sponsors cost the council P43, 714.87 which was all spent on paying overtime allowance for GCC employees. In total GCC had spent over P126 000 in all the activities. The councillors rejected the report with some calling for the involvement of Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), as they feel that the mayor used the council to push his own personal financial agendas. Among the complaints are some of the initiatives that were introduced by the mayor without consulting them. The latest one was the Diamond City Festival where the GCC logo was used without authorisation from the council authorities. The GCC Clerk wrote a memo to all council staff distancing the city council management from the festival, highlighting that the logo was used without their authorisation. It was later established that GC Mayor Thutwe is the one that gave the show organisers the go ahead to use the logo. This is said to have infuriated councillors who felt that the mayor has been doing things on his own and tarnishing the name of the council.
Finance committee queries
Another issue that has raised eyebrows is the Gaborone City Mayor’s Marathon which was initiated without the input of the council and or its finance and estimate committee. “Right now we don’t know if the marathon is done by the office or him in person as there is no account for the event and is managing it personally,” said a senior council employee, who also revealed that they don’t even know the beneficiaries of the marathon. The annual Gaborone City Mayor’s marathon was first hosted on September 16 this year and attracted lot of sponsors with Choppies being the golden sponsors with P500 000. During the launch of the marathon, Mayor Thutwe said the proceedings from the marathon will be used to develop the city, improve the lives of the people and develop a plan beneficial to the City of Gaborone. Chairman of the Finance committee Sesupo Jacobs said that they are not happy that council through the office of the mayor embarked on projects that milked money from the council without their approval. “Though the City Clerk Mpho Mathe admitted that it was an oversight from their office we are not happy and will sit down and map the way forward,” said the disappointed Alliance for Progressives councillor.
Thutlwe has however defended his initiatives, saying most councillors are confusing them with council activities. “Those initiatives are done to ensure there is vibrancy in the city and they are not for profit making, hence there is no bank account for the projects,” he said. On the use of GCC to run the activities, Thutlwe said the overtime money had been budgeted for and there was no need to seek approval from the Finance Committee.