The Serowe showdown that never was

Kabelo Dipholo
UNHAPPY: A small contingent voiced their displeasure

Masisi’s meeting in ‘lion’s den’ proves uneventful

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s kgotla meeting in Serowe on Tuesday morning failed to live-up to the hype.

While tensions were expected to flare, the meeting went ahead without much incidence, save for a few hecklers and protestors.

The anticipated ‘fireworks’ never went off, thanks perhaps to the tone set by Ngwato royals, Sediegeng Kgamane and Serogola Seretse, who led from the front, in the awkward absence of the Serowe Members of Parliament.

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In his speech, President Masisi acknowledged Kgamane’s leadership and assured him and Serowe natives of his support as enshrined in the constitution of Botswana.

In a measured delivery, Masisi reminded residents that Botswana is one the oldest democracies in Africa, and one of the few to attain a bloodless Independence.

While the President stayed away from any topic on his strained relations with his predecessor, former President Ian Khama, instead choosing to dwell on what his government has achieved and plans to achieve, the questions and answer session provided members of the public an opportunity to bring the Masisi/Khama beef into discussion.

A section of the crowd that had been sitting quietly, then flashed placards bearing messages condemning what they term ill-treatment of Khama.

An emotionally charged, Tebo Thokweng from Sebina ward, tried in vain to have an opportunity at the microphone, but a no nonsense Master of Ceremony would have none of it, further infuriating the diminutive Thokweng.

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Venting his frustrations, he spat insults at the speakers, causing a scene that was closely monitored by nearby police officers.

Thokweng accused Masisi of renting a crowd in Palapye and denying Serowe residents an opportunity to ask questions.

His rants seemed to spur some Khama sympathisers on as more and more placards came out, as residents clad in their noticeable ‘E seng mo go Kgosikgolo’ t-shirts heckled speakers chosen by the MC.

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KHAMA’S CAMP: Showing support for their chief

One visibly angry supporter ordered Masisi to go get the P100 billion supposedly stolen by Khama and stashed in South Africa to finance some of the projects in the country.

“If the P100 billion issue was a lie then we deserve to know,” he charged.

“Lelope” (bootlicker), screamed another of the hecklers, prompting a reaction from President Masisi.

“Yes it’s a democracy, of which I’ll ensure everyone’s protection,” the President said after a moment’s hesitation.

HE would later announce at the end of his response that he had 500 food hampers for the elderly and the less fortunate.

At this juncture most protestors and part of the crowd walked away from the kgotla.

“Ga re bate mephuthelwana, ga re je leswe (We don’t want your dirty hampers),” seethed one of the more outspoken protestors.

As the President made his way to his car, about five women followed him ululating, while behind him the elderly residents of Serowe tussled to receive their hampers.

In a brief interview with The Voice moments after the President left, Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu described the meeting as a success.

“We never expected to have any trouble in Serowe. The President delivered his message, and because we’re a democracy people were free to express themselves,” he said.

As Mthimkhulu’s car drove by, a visibly unimpressed lady could hardly contain her disdain.

“Owai! bo Mthimkhulu!”

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Her dissent, however, was in the minority and for the most part the day passed without incident.

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