Tempers flare at association’s heated conference
Sparks flew at the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) elective conference in Maun last week, forcing the meeting to a premature end without completing the agenda.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) elections were delayed by a day after tension broke out between council delegates and the outgoing BALA NEC over anomalies in the voter’s roll and electoral procedure.
Explaining the cause of the confusion, newly elected BALA President, Florah Mpetsane, told The Voice, “There were two names which caused problems: one name appeared twice in the roll while another name was not supposed to be in the roll at all as the owner was not a delegate.”
Mpetsane, who at the time of the conference was serving as acting President, had a tough time calling the gathering to order on Wednesday after councillors reacted angrily to this discrepancy, causing an adjournment to the next day.
Things got spicy when Branch Chairperson from Central district, Thatayamodimo Xhabue pointed out the irregularities in the voter’s roll.
He further insisted it would be unconstitutional to elect a new NEC with a delegation made up of out-going Chairpersons of BALA’s various commissions. His contention was that new commission Chairs have to be elected before the NEC vote can go ahead.
BALA’s constitution states the electoral college be composed of all members of NEC, including all Chairpersons of commissions, branch chairpersons and their secretaries and two delegates from councils.
Tension between the Presidential hopefuls Mpetsane and Ketshwereng Galeragwe and their factions was high, with Team Galeragwe adamant Mpetsane and co were banking on old commission for more votes.
“They know that if we vote the old commission out, then there is no way they are winning this, it will be a white-wash victory,” declared a member of Galeragwe’s camp.
Nonetheless, on Thursday, following the correction of the voter’s roll, the teams agreed to vote for commissions first and went for NEC election in the afternoon. Mpetsane ultimately emerged victorious, beating off Galeragwe by 50 votes to 33.
The conference was held under the theme, ‘Leveraging on the Comparative Advantages of Local Authorities to Build Back Better’.
Speaking with his govt’ hat firmly on, Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Kgotla Autlwetse noted the theme was especially appropriate as it indeed leverages on the confidence instilled by the Government’s strategy in the fight against Covid-19 as well as the initiatives put in place to resuscitate the economy and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
“The theme therefore challenges you to develop strategies aimed at growing your local economies and promoting investment opportunities in your respective districts, towns and cities. This is critical because local authorities are the first point of contact with our communities and play a key role in supporting local businesses and communities,” explained Autlwetse when officially opening the conference.