Controversy over the status of Member of Parliament for Lerala-Maunatlala, Prince Maele, in the house of assembly escalated on Friday morning, when the opposition legislators demanded that he show his true colours.
Maele, who has been suspended from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) still occupies his seat among BDP backbenchers, something that prompted MP for Mogoditshane, Sedirwa Kgoroba, to ask why he is still on the BDP side of the aisle. “Mr. Speaker Honorable Maele has been suspended from the BDP and I wonder why he is still seating on the BDP side. Is he not supposed to be this (opposition) side?” Kgoroba asked, throwing the whole house into a fit of laughter.
In a swift move, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane who is also the BDP chairman didn’t wait for Maele to explain his status but offered to give an explanation.“Yes, Maele has been suspended from the BDP but remains a member of the party. You must know better that a suspension is not an expulsion,” he said.
An uproar erupted when some MPs from the opposition argued that Maele has declared that he is contesting the 2019 general el;ections as an independent parliamentary candidate. Therefore, they demanded answers why are the BDP still want to retain him as their MP. Tsogwane said he is not aware of that development. “As far as I know Maele is not standing as an independent candidate but remains a member of the BDP,” he said.
Although in an earlier interview Maele had confirmed his candidature as an independent parliamentary candidate, when asked about Tsogwane’s statement on Friday morning he refused to comment. “I was not in Parliament when he uttered those words. Go and ask him not me,” he said.
Put to him that he was indeed in Parliament when Tsogwane made the statement, Maele went ballistic and insisted that he can’t comment. Asked if he will stand as independent candidate, Maele cut off the call. He announced last month that he will contest 2019 elections as an independent candidate because he had not decided to join the new political party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).
Highly placed sources within the ruling party have revealed that President Mokgweetsi Masisi still has a soft spot for Maele and is currently trying to convince him not to stand as an independent candidate. “It is not yet cast in stone that Maele will stand as independent candidate or join BPF. President Masisi is still trying to convince him to stay and probably offer him ambassadorial post after the October elections,” the source revealed.
Maele was slapped with six months suspension after he was accused of attacking President Masisi at a kgotla meeting in his constituency last year. At the same gathering he boldly declared his loyalty to former President Ian Khama. After the suspension, Maele appealed his suspension and sent some party elders including former President Festus Mogae to plead with Masisi to show mercy and pardon him. His plea didn’t bear any fruit as his appeal was dismissed by the party’s Appeals committee consisting among others former MPs Olebile Gaborone, Moggie Mbaakanyi and Rayner Makosha.
He has since been replaced in his constituency by Sethabelo Modukanele who lost to Maele in the BDP primaries by 3 500 votes against 3 330. In 2014, after losing to Maele in the primarie, Modukanele stood as an independent candidate and got 4,115 votes while Maele won by 6,356 votes.