The controversy that has engulfed the inaugural Miss Plus Size Universe- Botswana, has now reached Office of the President (OP), Senior Private Secretary to the President, Brigadier George Tlhalerwa has confirmed.
In a brief interview with this publication this week, Tlhalerwa explained that OP has already met with the contestants, heard their side of the story and the verdict on the matter is to be made within the next few days. Top of the agenda is the leaked information confirming that the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture has indeed sponsored the pageant, information the organisers of the pageant have been denying. The Ministry is said to have sponsored the event to the tune of P10, 000.
At the core of the matter is suspicion of conflict of interest. The reigning queen, Mmangaka Coreen Tumagole, was unceremoniously dethroned and subsequently substituted by Minister of Youth, Thapelo Olopeng’s daughter, Natasha Olopeng. Olopeng is the Minister of the same Ministry which is said to be among the top pageant sponsors.
At a press briefing this week, Tumagole who was supposed to represent the country in Trinidad and Tobago on March 4th this year at an international Miss plus Size Universe, announced that she has since made her mind that she is no longer interested in the anticipated competition, owing to the current controversy.
“I have since engaged relevant authorities to deal with the matter including the Office of the President and Permanent Secretary in that Ministry, Kago Ramokate,” she said. According to Tumagole, a meeting was set between Gorata Kekgonegile who is the organiser of the event, her parents and a representative from the Regional Youth Office at MYSC. At this meeting, according to the plus size queen, Kekgonegile admitted omitting some facts to the contestants and unfairly removing her from the pageant.
“In this meeting she also admitted to willingly tarnishing my name, thus, I cannot work with her anymore,” said Tumagole. Last month a statement released by Fab Fast Collections Pty (Ltd) on behalf of the event organiser, Gorata Kekgethile and Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana, the company announced that, “Due to unfortunate circumstances that we have been aware of regarding our client, we would like to apologise to all our sponsors and supports for substituting her. Botswana shall be represented by Natasha Tshepang Olopeng who was the 2nd Princess. This decision was not based on the director but the sponsors.”
In her claims, Kekgethegile asserted that she has been communicating with the owner of the international pageant, Pearl Williams who told her that they have a weight limit of 112 kg. However the contestants maintain that she never shared such information with them before. They also claim that she has since failed to provide the e- mails as evidence to the said conversation with Williams.
In a pageant setup, should the reigning Queen be recalled, or be unable to continue with her duty, the immediate substitute is the first (1st) Princess not the second Princess. Gabby Mochudi who is 1st Princess in this case, should have taken over, but according to Kekgethegile, Mochudi cannot take up the duty as she has lost weight and does not meet the criteria.
Tumagole was dethroned because she is said to have gained weight or have failed to shed some. Over and above she is said to have failed to honour her gym requirements, let alone maintain the strict diet. On the contrary Tumagole contended that her dethroning does not make sense and the accusations levelled against her by Kekgethegile were simply an excuse to take away her crown so as to pave way for the Minister’s daughter.
Although Tumagole admitted that as per the judging criteria of the pageant gym attendances and activations were considered, it was not aimed at losing weight, but rather for health reasons. She alleged that even Natasha who has since substituted her, only came once to the gym.
When reached for comment, Kekgethegile was in no mood to discuss the saga. “Look, I am not commenting on anything regarding the pageant. I will call the press conference and let you know if anyone is going to Trinidad and Tobago,” said the fuming Natasha. Pressed further by this reporter, she said, “whether I have a comment or not is none of your business”. The international pageant is next month and the assumption is that she has to be in a better position to explain whether they are fully prepared for it or not.
While allegations are rife that Kekgethegile is currently busy preparing the Minister’s daughter to go to Trinidad & Tobago, some sponsors are said to have since pulled out after reports of favouritism and the controversy surrounding the pageant came to light. Meanwhile the Office of the President, through Brigadier George Tlhalerwa is working on a quick solution to this matter. Tlhalerwa has stated, “At the moment I can only confirm that I met with them and we are working to assist them where we can as soon as possible. I can however not dwell into the whole matter because they have not instructed me to do so.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.