In what promises to be a battle royal, the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will face off in the imminent by-election for the Kalakamate ward on October 29th.
The ward became vacant after the death of Israel Samu of the BDP, just over two months ago. Samu had beaten UDC’s Madumela Matebu and Never Mogapi of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who got 434 and 219 votes respectively while he garnered 556 votes in the 2014 general election. However, in this by-election, the two opposition parties have, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ganged up against the ruling BDP with the BCP not contesting but actively supporting the UDC.
Kalakamate ward is constituted by three villages: namely Kalakamate, Sikakangwe and Mbalambi. Zibani Mbalambi is the BDP candidate while Madumela Matebu will represent the opposition. He was born in Mbalambi village in 1955. While Mbalambi will be hoping that his rich curriculum vitae especially as an employee of Rhodesia Railways (RR) and later Botswana Railways (BR), will endear him to the voter, Matebu, also born in 1955 in the village of Sikakangwe, will rely on his record as the area councillor from 2004 to 2014 when he delivered a number of infrastructural developments to his ward.
In an interview, Matebu says he wants his tenure to be associated with the construction of among other things, the bridge on the Shashe River connecting Kalakamate and Nswazwi villages, the building of another bridge between Kalakamate and Sikakangwe, an additional house at the Kalakamate Health Post to accommodate a second nurse. “When I became councillor, the road from Sikakangwe to Gambule needed culverts and gravel. I also brought about the construction of the Sikakangwe kgotla office for the kgosi,” said Matebu adding that he also facilitated the demolition of two dilapidated teachers’ houses in Mbalambi village because they had become inhabitable and replaced them with two new and decent houses.
According to Mbalambi’s written profile compiled at the request of this publication, after his primary education in his home village, some 100 km from Francistown, he went to Gaborone Senior Secondary School where he completed his Form 5 in 1977. After secondary school, Mbalambi went to Malawi to train as a locomotive driver. Upon his return from Malawi, he was attached to RR as a shunt engineman and was based in Serule. In 1983, Mbalambi got promoted as a Senior Engineman on the Bulawayo-Mafikeng section. In 1985, he was transferred to Lobatse in preparation for the takeover in 1987 when the line came under BR.
“In 1988, I was promoted to become the Train Crew Supervisor based in Francistown, the post I held until 1992 after which I became a station master. In 1995, I became a traffic inspector and in 1997 went back to the position of station master in Francistown until 2005,” said Mbalambi who, between 2002 and 2005 was the Acting Business Manager in Francistown. From November 2005, following a restructuring exercise, he became a traffic inspector and also acted as Regional Manager North, “From October 2007 to October 2011, I was based in South Africa as BR representative based in Johannesburg. On my return from South Africa, I was appointed Business Analyst on an acting capacity until I retired from the service of Botswana Railways in 2013,” revealed Mbalambi who joined the BDP in 1999.
During the course of his service with BR, he did courses on supervisory management, customer care, customer relations management, operations management and leadership skills. There is an interesting similarity of the issues the candidates want to tackle should they win. Both Mbalambi and Matebu want student hostels to be built at Mainjani secondary school in Sikakangwe to relieve students who have to travel from either Mbalambi or Kalakamate which villages, alongside Sikakangwe, form the catchment area of the secondary school. Each village is about 8 km from Sikakangwe where the school is. In addition to the hostels, Matebu wants the phasing out of the pit latrines at the school in favour of a water borne system, according to his written profile.
“I will also advocate for the introduction of modernised cooking equipment at Mainjane CJSS and do away with firewood,” reads his campaign pamphlet. “I will advocate for the introduction of a mini bus to ferry students to and from the school as a short term measure before the construction of boarding facilities as opposed to the use of donkey carts proposed by the BDP candidate,” states the UDC candidate who is also a businessman. Both candidates are not happy with the road network and will lobby government to avail resources for the construction of more roads.
Both Mbalambi and Matebu are spending sleepless nights over the problem of unemployment. “I will advocate for the improvement of the current empowerment schemes so that they are more beneficial to the people,” pledged the UDC candidate without elaborating. For his part, the BDP candidate, “will mobilise and educate the people on the myriad government empowerment schemes.” Each of the candidate further pledges to urge for developments of recreational facilities and sports development in the ward. Both Mbalambi and Matebu have got no complaints with each other’s conduct of the campaign with each considering the campaign to be decent. Refreshingly, allegations of vote-buying are not that loud.