Former Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services minister, Prince Maele, who was last week suspended by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has retired to Lerala- Maunatlala constituency where he has launched a massive campaign in a bid to retain his incumbency as the area MP.
Observers say this could be a clear indication that Maele could be planning to contest the 2019 general elections as an independent candidate, bouyed by the backing and support he is enjoying from some party members, among them sitting BDP councillors.
The Patriot on Sunday has learnt that since his suspension, Maele has been traversing the constituency lobbying for support and mobilising sympathisers to back him. Maele has declined to discuss the issues surrounding his suspension from the BDP, which effectively renders him inelligible to return to Parliament after October 2019 general elections. Sources close to the development said Maele has been meeting with some of the BDP councilors in the constituency to map a way forward. “Maele has been in the constituency since his suspension. He is enjoying huge support from the constituents and some of the BDP councilors are also behind him to discuss the situation. They are trying to decide on the best way forward,” said a source in the constituency.
Elsewhere Maele was recently quoted in the media saying that he will make a profound announcement in three weeks on what he will do next, now that he is serving a 12 months suspension that rules him out of the 2019 race under the BDP ticket where he won the party primary elections (Bulela Ditswe) narrowly against Sethabelo Modukanele.He won the primaries with a slight margin garnering 3 528 against 3 231 votes for Modukanele.
In a telephonic interview with Maele on Thursday, he said he is not willing to talk to the media about his suspension. There is growing speculation that opposition parties are watching the developments with a hawk's eye, ready to pounce and draw Maele to their side should he ditch the BDP to contest as an independent candidate. Maele said he does not want to be dragged into discussing the issue whether he is being suspended for the sentiments he made when he declared his undying support for Khama late last year. “I don’t want to say anything about my suspension to the media at all. So let the media continue their speculations because I am not ready to talk on any developments at this moment. I am not saying anything,” said curtly, before terminating the call abruptly.
Loyalty to Khama
The ruling on suspension of Maele is being attributed by some to his stern loyalty to former President Ian Khama who is associated with the factional New Jerusalem Camp which is likely to jeopardize the stability of the ruling party.
Some believe that Maele’s move to break ranks with the BDP incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi while other MPs seemed shy to declare support for the former president on an impasse that erupted between him and his successor is the one that earned him a suspension. The defiant Maele broke the silence and publicly declared support to Khama in a Kgotla meeting at Moremi saying he is fully behind his Kgosi Kgolo declaring that "ke eme tsii! le Kgosikgolo". He emphasized at the time that he will never abandon his master in Khama as other BDP fellow MPs had decided to desert him and rally behind president Masisi.
Prior to declaring his loyalty to Khama publicly, Maele had already seemed to be not one of Masisi's favourites as he was dropped from cabinet with the likes of Nkange MP, Jenamiso Edwin Batshu. Batshu was holding the ministerial portfolio of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs and has since replaced by Dorcas Makgato while Maele was replaced by Kefentse Mzwinila deputized by Itumeleng Moipisi.
Ahead of the Saturday meeting called by Ian Khama at Serowe main kgotla, where he was expected to announce his resignation from the BDP, Maele's name cropped up as one of those likely to follow their kgosikgolo in the walkout.