In Monarch South ward in Francistown, Ignatius Moswaane is what the late Kenneth Koma- former Botswana National Front (BNF) president was to the residents of Old Naledi and Bontleng in Gaborone South. He is a revered political figure and there is a very thin line between the name Moswaane and the term controversy-the two seem to be inseparable.
Recently the Francistown West legislator dominated local news when for two weeks he forced parliament to adjourn earlier as his motion on the investigations at Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) was put on hold. He even enjoyed support of the opposition MPs as they walked out of parliament in solidarity with him forcing debates to adjourn as members did not form a quorum.
This was not before he gave the deputy speaker of national assembly Kagiso Molatlhegi his piece of mind, that he does not worship false gods and defying Vice President who is also leader of the house, Mokgweetsi Masisi’s call for him to withdraw the statement.
Who is Moswaane?
The Sefhope born politician came to prominence in 2003 when he supported unpopular parliamentary candidate in the Francistown West constituency Tshelang Masisi who was being challenged by Peter Ngoma- the then mayor of Francistown and was very popular in the constituency.
He was appointed Masisi’s campaign manager while the latter was in a hospital bed in South Africa after a kidney transplant. Moswaane staged a spirited campaign which led to Masisi winning with a convincing margin. A re-run was called and his man won again and ultimately won the constituency in the general elections. Moswaane was elected councilor for Monarch South. To many people in Francistown, Moswaane is a photocopy of his political master, Masisi, as he applies the same political gimmicks that the late Francistown West MP did.
Moswaane was elected the mayor of Francistown after the 2004 general elections but was dethroned by his then political nemesis Billy Buti who is now Francistown East MP. Moswaane, a rubble rouser of note, showed his true colors when he ensured that he made Billy’s tenure a living hell teaming up with opposition councilors.
A political schemer that he is, Moswaane is nicknamed Timmy, a diminutive character in the American soapie Passions. In 2007 his relationship with his political mentor, Masisi started to show some cracks and kept widening as BDP’s 2008 primary elections approached. Moswaane felt that Masisi was supporting his challenger Baboni Mosalagae who would later beat him in the primary elections. The controversial yet dramatic politician resigned from BDP and contested as independent candidate and his motorcade a day before the elections was one of the biggest in Francistown. He managed to convince a Somali businessmen who are selling cars in Francistown to rally behind him and released over 50 cars for his campaigns.
During his campaign, the outspoken politician took swipe at President Ian Khama whom he labeled a ruthless dictator who is worse than his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe. He accused Khama of failing to address his concerns regarding the primary elections loss and was quoted in the media as saying, “The President claimed to have been busy to attend to my case. O ka nna busy jang a tsamaya a ora melelo gape a tshwara batho ka mabogo (How can he be busy when he is gallivanting about the country listening to folktales around the fire and greeting people).”
He went on to win the elections beating his political rival Mosalagae by 617 votes to 390 and would later retrace his steps back to the BDP in 2010. His arrival in the BDP signaled another tension within the party and the constituency, as he made it clear from the onset that he is now going for a bigger cake, the parliamentary seat. Masisi tried to appeal to the party leadership that Moswaane was campaigning before the writ of elections was issued but the then Monarch South councilor denied the accusation but confirmed that he is going to challenge the incumbent for the 2013 primary elections. This did not happen as in August 2013, Masisi passed on and some of his supporters accused Moswaane of contributing to the death of the leader due to his campaigns.
It was alleged that he was barred from attending Masisi’s funeral, an allegation he rubbished saying he helped with funeral preparations but admitted that he did not attend the memorial service held at Francistown Civic Centre.
The no-nonsense councilor
At Francistown City Council he teamed up with councilors Tabengwa Tabengwa known as the ‘bulldozer’, Shadreck Nyeku and Kays Pitshane. They made life difficult for government officials who came to make presentations at FCC including the town clerk Charles Amos. Amos was transferred to North East District after the four councilors made his stay at Botswana’s second city unbearable.
In December 2012 Moswaane and Amos nearly exchanged blows after a heated argument during a committee meeting at the council chambers. He once accused the mayor James Kgalajwe in 2012 of trying to oppress them. “This council will not entertain dictatorship and won’t allow someone to bulldoze us for no good reason,” he said then.
In 2013 he succesfully moved a motion calling for FCC councilors to severe ties with Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA). Moswaane claims BALA’s new constitution was a product of a cabal in the executive committee serving only their interests.
Another famous motion which he brought to FCC was the one calling on all council departments to account on why there is poor service in Botswana’s second city. It is that motion that most people believe led to the transfer of Amos to North East District.
Ambitions for parliament deferred
It was clear that Moswaane was going to sail through in the BDP primaries as he faced lightweight politicians in the mould of former Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) president Whyte Marobela, Angelinah Sengalo and Kago Phofuetsile. After he won the primaries, Moswaane received a shock of his political life when the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) turned down his application as candidate as he had a case in the court of law after Marobela took the party to court regarding the primary elections.
Moswaane would later accuse the party of betraying him and failing to address Marobela’s concerns which led to him being barred from contesting the elections. This was after he had resigned as councilor for Monarch South.
The infamous Francistown petition
A street fighter and schemer that he is, Moswaane through an organisation he formed, petitioned the Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe who by then was the acting President to postpone the elections. Kedikilwe released a proclamation postponing the elections to January 2014.
Opposition parties tried to fight the proclamation in court but their case was later dismissed. It later emerged that some of the names on the petition were of deceased persons. Moswaane distanced himself from the petition. Police instituted investigations and the accused are yet to be brought before the courts of law.
Moswaane failed to contest in the bye elections leading to Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate Dr Habaudi Hubona making history by becoming the first woman to be elected opposition MP. It was clear that Hubona was holding fort for Moswaane as she was voted by less than 1000 voters garnering only 966 votes.
Realizing that he was now on the back foot, Moswaane went against his party when he supported churches who were illegally occupying open spaces in the city. He went ahead and hired a lawyer for them forcing FCC to negotiate with the churches.
This was viewed by his detractors as a way of appeasing the churches and solicit their support ahead of the general elections. The dramatic BDP politician would later win the Francistown West constituency cutting short Dr Hubona’s stay in parliament to seven months.
Moswaane enters parliament with a bang
When he entered parliament, Moswaane did not waste time trying to acclimatize to the new environment but took his government to task. In his response to the state of the nation address, Moswaane accused government of neglecting the welfare of the public service workers which he said has led to the near collapse of the public service.
Many thought he will help the ruling party to parry political blows from the 20 opposition Members of Parliament but he found them in slumberland and took their position. Together with Tati West MP Biggie Butale, they literally took over the role of the opposition by taking their government to task and tabling motions that were viewed as anti-government.
Recently he accused the speaker of the national assembly Gladys Kokorwe of hating him and vowed never to say anything if she is leading the debates in parliament.
For two weeks, Moswaane held parliament to ransom forcing two consecutive adjournments because parliament failed to debate his motion calling for investigations into maladministration at Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC).
Am not fighting with my party
Moswaane, a perennial late comer in parliament laughs off when asked why he is always on the wrong side with leadership be at council, party and at parliament, noting that he is a man of principle and fight for what is right. “My party appreciates my debate in parliament, in fact President Khama has encouraged us to be free when debating on issues of national interest,” he said as he laughs off.
He denied that he referred to party leadership when he said that he does not worship false gods. “I was referring to that person who was in charge of the proceedings by then.”
The Francistown West MP said that he believes in pushing for the betterment of the welfare of Batswana and he is going to fight for it in parliament.
Did you know?
The phrase ‘Nna ga ke a tla go rapela medimo ya disetwa’ was in the past used by the former Francistown Mayor Shadreck Nyeku referring to the former Francistown city clerk Charles Amos during a heated council session debate in 2013. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Member of Parliament for Francistown West since he came to parliament has put his government on its toes with controversial questions and motions he poses in parliament..