Moses Mabutho and Godknows Robby are engaged in an aggressive campaign for the looming elections for the position of Chief of Zwenshambe village in the North East District.
This follows a recent court order which disqualified the Chabale clan in Zwenshambe as the right people to lead the village. While Robby accuses his rival of being used by the Mosojane dynasty, Mabutho accuses Robby of being imposed on the villagers by the Tibone clique.
Mabutho, a member of the Chabale family, was appointed to lead Zwenshambe by the Chabale family who maintained, with the support of the then Minister of Local Government, Dr Margaret Nasha, that the village chieftainship belongs to them.
A section of the village opposed the move and took the matter to court. He found himself jobless in October last year after occupying the seat since 2008. Following the court order Kgosi Sibangani Mosojane lodged an appeal whose outcome is yet to be known. This has however not stopped the contestants from campaigning.
When contacted, Robby explained to Botswana Guardian that his main aim is to unify the residents of the village. “For a very long time, the village has never known any peace as there are many divisions. Mabutho has failed to unite the residents since he took over in 2008. Instead, he was used by the Mosojane dynasty which has been lording it over Zwenshambe ever since after independence. If elected, I am going to ensure that Zwenshambe becomes independent from both Mosojane and Mapoka villages,” he said.
On the other hand, the dethroned chief denied any links with Mosojane. He said that since his ascension to the throne in 2008, he has managed to unify the villagers, which he found divided. “I am not an imposition to this village by Chief Mosojane as I was only given the position following a vacancy left by Chief Ngubalane when he retired in 2008.
For me to take over, it was not because I am close to Mosojane. Instead, the Chabale’s who by then believed the chieftainship belong to them nominated me and since my nomination, I have worked with members of the village without fear or favour. Unlike Robby, I am not a politician. Mine is to unite the community,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Robby added that as a child of Zwenshambe village, which is next to the Zimbabwean border, he sacrificed his life by joining the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) back in 1978 to protect his village and the nation at large from frequent attacks by Ian Smith of Rhodesia. Moreover, he said that after joining the army, he rose to the position of an army Captain: a leadership position which will give him an advantage over his rival.
“I am a capable leader who can turn around the fortunes of Zwenshambe since Mabutho has failed the villagers since he took office. Nobody is born a chief in the village and our village should not be under the leadership of any village since it is independent. As a theologian with a degree in Theology, I am capacitated to attend to give counselling to the stressed villagers,” he explained.
A concerned resident from Thobani ward in the village, Messiah Gwaloba did not hide his displeasure at the current state of affairs in the village since everything is at a standstill. “This chieftainship impasse has denied my village developments and peace. Court order or no court order, I still believe in Mabutho since he has done a lot for this village since his ascension to power in 2008,” Gwaloba said.
He said that when Mabutho took over from Ngubalane, the village was divided and there was no peace, which, according to him, Mabutho has restored. Moreover, he revealed that the behaviour of the youth in the village has since improved as they were lashed frequently at the village kgotla when they misbehaved.
“I still remember well that during his takeover, the community hall was in a sorry state as goats sheltered inside it. Through his mobilisation, he managed to source funds from companies including Debswana and the hall was refurbished making it the best hall in the northern part of Francistown. Apart from the hall, a beautiful kraal was also constructed at the main kgotla. Educationally, Mabutho is far ahead of his opponent as he has a Master’s Degree in Animal Health and has worked for the Botswana Meat Commission as a leading meat inspector,” he said.
Dingaan Molale a staunch supporter of Robby explained that he has nothing against Mabutho since he is a child of Zwenshambe village. “The problem with him is that he is associated with a group of people who want our village to be a satellite for villages including Mosojane and Mapoka. On the other hand, Robby is advocating for the village to be completely independent so that it can enjoy developments like many other villages. Mabutho is used by chief Mosojane and I cannot just stand that,” he said.
Another villager said that he cannot vote for Robby since he is a politician. “As far as I know, Robby is a very active member of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who lost the last BDP primary elections in Francistown South. Therefore, as a politician, he is most likely to further divide the village according to party lines. This immediately disqualifies him from the position he seeks to occupy,” he opined.
The villager, also a politician himself, said that if Mabutho had previously shown any interest in any political party or position, he would not vote for him as he does not support politicians as they divide villages along political lines. Another resident of Zwenshambe who also refused to be named said that, he cannot support Mabutho since this would mean that Zwenshambe will never be independent from the Mosojane and Habangana dynasty.
“For a very long time, our village has been a satellite for Mapoka and Mosojane villages respectively in the process denying the village the desired developments. If the dethroned chief is brought back, we can as well forget about future developments,” he added.