Breaking barriers

Kabelo Dipholo

*Young UDC Councillor makes history in Marapong

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The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) suffered a crushing defeat in the just ended general elections. 

While the coalition movement licks its wounds and comes to terms with its disappointment- including UDC leader, Duma Boko losing his parliamentary seat – there are, however, some notable success stories to lift the blues.

One such triumph is Marapong ward’s new councillor, 26-year-old Gofaone Mabutho.

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It is the first time since Independence that an opposition councillor has triumphed in the village, located in Shashe West constituency some 70km north of Francistown.

Mabutho secured victory by an impressive margin of 150 votes, garnering 675 votes while Botswana Democratic Party and Alliance for Progressivesmanaged 525 and 480 respectively.

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Speaking to The Voice on Monday, five days after her historic feat, Mabutho appeared calm and composed.

She revealed her political journey started in 2014 as part of MothaleemangMoalosi’s campaign team – a campaign that was doomed to failure.

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“Moalsois was contesting the constituency under the Botswana Congress Party ticket. In the same year I was Secretary General (SG) of team ‘Tshelathupa’ and we successfully helped TumisoRakgare to win the BCP Youth League elections.” 

Following BCP’s dismal performance in the 2014 general elections, Mabutho focused her energies on building structures for the party as the SG for Francistown South, also doubling as the BCPYL Treasurer.

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Her political path took an unexpected turn at the start of 2019.

“Early this year BCP members approached me and asked my to stand in Marobela. It was not an easy decision because some in the Francistown South constituency had hoped I’d stay and maybe stand in 2024,” explainedMabutho.

“In the end I decided to stand in my home village and help build the party there – and,as they say, the rest is history!” grinnedMabutho, glancing apologetically at her phone for the umpteenth time. 

The young woman’s cellphone has been blurring non-stop since the start of the interview as people from all walks of life called to congratulate her.

“It is a sweet victory made even more special by the fact that it’s history made by a woman!” she added proudly.Looking to the future, Mabutho said she intends to ‘hit the ground running’ in addressing the challenges faced by her constituents.

“The first challenge is lack of water. The situation in Marapong needs urgent attention. People have suffered for far too long and no one has come up with solutions. I’ll be the voice that will remind the current government of the plight of our people,” she declared, her hunger to bring about change reflected in her clenched fists.

Mabutho noted that her ward includes a number of remote areas, including Mmapatse, Mosu and Shoorojena cattle posts, whose residents all use the small clinic in Marapong.

“The clinic doesn’t have a maternity ward, and mothers in labour have to travel as far as Francistown or Tutume to deliver. This is unacceptable because Marapong is such a big ward deserving of a better health facility,” charged Mabutho, displaying the fire and passion that saw her make history.

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