FRANCISTOWN: The Francistown City Council is in a state of dysfunction thanks to the standoff between Mayor Sylvia Muzila and some councillors who say she bends rules to avoid being toppled.
Last week during the just ended Full Council session, Muzila and town clerk Mompati Seleka blocked a motion of no confidence brought by Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) councillor Gaone Majere. At the center of the battle is the Standing Order 21(C) regarding matters urgency which states that “on the motion being seconded the Mayor shall without allowing any debate on the motion put it in favor of the motion, the Mayor shall call on the member putting the motion to introduce the new item of business in the usual matter.”
Drama broke out when Majere who insisted that he raised the motion procedurally- was blocked from introducing the content of his motion by Muzila: “Surprisingly while I was awaiting the Mayor to give me the opportunity to introduce my urgent item, she misinterpreted the Standing Order for her own benefit. My intention to bring a new item was seconded as per the standing order but instead the Mayor surprisingly divided the house for reasons known her. We had numbers but she did this to intimidate some BDP councillors who did not support her. She knew that some of them would be afraid to raise up their hands in favor of the new item,” he said, arguing that the standing order calls for a vote regardless.
The town clerk, Seleka, attempted to intervene but only caused both opposition and BDP councillors to walk out in protest. The following day when councilors returned expecting that intervention of the council attorney, he told them that he did not have the mandate to advise them. “The council attorney is my advisor not the councilors advisor. Whatever I am presenting here has passed through the council attorney for advice therefore there is no need to bring her for interpretation,” argued Seleka whose comment enraged councilors, causing them to walk out in protest again.
Councillor Peter Ngoma who is the alleged masterminded of the plan to oust Muzila expressed disappointment about town clerk’s conduct: “Seleka has set a bad precedence because in future if he wants to bring the council attorney to clarify something and we will not allow that since he says the attorney is not responsible for advising them,” he said, accusing the town clerk of being ‘used’ by the mayor.
Another councilor Ephraim Maiketso criticized the clerk for misguiding Muzila. “Since she was elected recently she has been biased and failing to control this council. The council need a mayor who is not biased to avoid chaos that we are experiencing,” the BCP councillor said.
Muzila and Seleka could not be reached for comment as they were said to be out of the country on an official trip.
PRO MUZILA SEEKS BDP INTERVENTION TO AVERT COUP
Four Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councilors namely Joe Gunda, Godfrey Kaelo, Badubi Lekang and Baboni Mosalagae have written a complaint letter to the party’s Francistown region and copied to the head office, complaining about the anti-Muzila faction which they say is obstructing council business and bringing the party’s name into disrepute.
“Since the start of the council the councilors has behaved in an irregular manner which was obstructive to business of the council. In our view, it has become apparent that their mission was to find means for submitting urgent motion of no confidence against the Mayor and her Deputy Godisang Radisigo,” reads the letter.
In the letter, they accuse party colleagues Peter Ngoma and Cornelius Gopolang of leading a mutiny against Muzila. “All of them commented badly over the (Muzila’s) speech that it contained nothing and that there is absolutely nothing going on in the city for developments. We therefore submit this matter to your office for urgent attention as it is disturbing and obstructing council business,” they wrote.
Ngoma however rubbished their claims saying “The people who wrote that letter have understand that I did not bring any motion but only wanted to bring point of clarity about the procedures of bringing an urgent item. Our party name was never brought into discussion, therefore there was no how we can be accused of bringing it into disrepute.”
BDP Francistown Regional Chairman Baemedi Medupi confirmed knowledge of the complaint letter but could not be drawn into discussing its contents: “I cannot comment much about the letter from the concerned councilors because I was only told by colleagues at the office that there is a letter written by councilors that should be addressed urgently. So, I will know much after receiving the letter.”