Home » News » General » The night is still young – BDP Cllrs tell Venson-Moitoi

The night is still young – BDP Cllrs tell Venson-Moitoi

Publishing Date : 08 October, 2018


Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) nominated Councillors in the Sowa Township have vowed to hold their own following the announcement by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi that she will dissolve the Council after it failed to execute its duties without just cause.

Three of the eight nominated councillors have taken the Sowa Township Council to court over unpaid mileage claims following the council’s failure to provide them with accommodation in Sowa. Some of the councillors indicated in court papers that they drive from areas such as Serowe, Francistown, and Tonota to attend Council meetings in Sowa.

However Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi told Sowa residents this week that her decision was in accordance with the Local Government Act Section 89 (1) Clause C, which gave the minister powers to dissolve the council. The Act states that where the council fails without good cause to perform any of its functions, the minister shall exercise the powers conferred under the section.

The decision by the Minister is unprecedented and interesting at the same time because all the nominated councillors are from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Vice President Slumber Tsogwane was at the helm of the ministry at the time they were appointed.

Venson-Moitoi she took the decision following councillors’ refusal to do work, which they pledged to carry out after taking an oath of office – A charge that some of the suspended councilors who spoke to this publication vehemently deny. Botho Ntirang, a nominated councilor in Sowa told Weekend Post, “the night is still young on this matter”. He said he suspects that the minister is acting on hearsay and does not have the benefit of records. Ntirang is one of the three councillors ventilating his grievances in court.

According to Dr Venson-Moitoi some of the councillors after refusing to do work which they were mandated to do, and further they took council to court regarding their grievances on allowances. Dr Venson-Moitoi stated that while the said councillors had found themselves a representative on their case against the council, they have refused to pass a resolution that would give the Sowa council management power of attorney so that it could also have a representative on the case and any other issues on which the council might need to have a legal representative.

Asked on the matter, Ntirang said, “We will not do anything that contravenes the Local Government Act. We took an oath of office and we were basically pointing out to the Town Clerk that we cannot pass a resolution on a matter that we feel conflicted.” According to Ntirang no councillor has ever refused to give the council power of attorney, “what happened was that when the town clerk brought the issue before council, those who names were at court recused themselves because they were conflicted and the quorum collapsed.” He said they did so because they took an oath which they would have contravened had they chosen to stay and deliberate on a matter in which they are conflicted.

While the minister has noted that numerous efforts have been made by the town clerk to engage with the councillors to reach a resolution on the matter to the extent that even on mediation with an authorised personnel, she sent, the councilors still failed to adhere to the laws that governed them as representatives of the people, Ntirang disputes that “in fact the council has been very dishonest and they even misled court by filing a false power of attorney.” According to Ntirang the people who should be facing the Minister’s wrath at the moment is the Sowa Town Council management, “not the councillors”.

Dr Venson-Moitoi has indicated that when the nominated councillors were sworn into office, they took an oath of allegiance that they would be faithful, protect the constitution of Botswana and work fully for the people they were representing. She is of the view that the councillors had refused to do what they had taken oath for hence acting according to the constitution.

Explaining the process of dissolving the council, Dr Venson Moitoi said she would publicise the decision on the government gazette and in the meantime find people who would ensure the council business continues. 
The Minister said she would give Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) three months to have given new names for people who would continue work at the council.
Earlier this year, the councillors passed a motion that had requested council to pay them mileages every time they attend council meetings and other engagements for the council since they could not be provided with accommodation in Sowa.

The Councillors were appointed after the 2014 general elections and they include former cabinet Minister Olifant Mfa. Government has made it clear that it has no money to pay mileage claims to councillors and that it could be costly exercise. However there are nominated councillors who claim mileages in areas where the distance is within certain limits. Indications are that should nominated councillors claim mileage the bill could spring to billions of Pula.

The three councillors are represented in court by David Olatotse of Olatotse attorneys and should they succeed in their suit, they could pocket hundreds of thousands of Pula. “We are still councillors of Sowa Township until the process initiated by the minister is completed. We hope she does everything in a manner that agrees with the Act that empowers her to do that. We cannot stop the minister from dissolving the council,” declared Ntirang.



Do you think the courts will help put the UDC, BMD impasse within reasonable time ahead of the 2019 General Election?