Olebogeng Sethibe’s story of resilience, hard work and determination is an inspiration that proves the three components are a complete recipe of success.
Sethibe fought tooth and nail in the 2014 general elections to call for a by-election where he believed he was cheated.
He entered the council chambers in late January 2015 after beating Mokgweetsi Masisi’s constituency office secretary, Motlhatlosi Kelobang by 91 votes in the by-election that saw him being the only BCP member in the whole district.
His political career started in 1977 under Botswana National Front (BNF) and later defected after the formation of the BCP in 1998.
Sethibe who is also an entrepreneur, was recruited by Moshupa West community to represent them in the 1999 council general election, but he lost to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate.
He tried his luck in 2004 and lost again. He did not despair in 2009 and contested again under the same party and he won the ward for the first time. He explained that Moshupa West, which is also known as Diboto ward, is close to his heart and he worked for it before he could even contest for elections.
The 2014 general election was more dramatic than expected. Sethibe shook his head in disbelief as he related how he fought to retain his seat.
He was hit by a hard object on the head as he entered Mmanaana Secondary School hall and was left unconscious during the verification of the ballot boxes.
He was called by one of his comrades with suspicions of cheating surfacing.
“I asked the election officers to clear the tables and allow only one person to count and I lead by three votes.
We had the second re-count, which led to us leading by two, the third recount gave Domi victory and we called for the fourth re-count, which lead to a tie between BDP and BCP and we accepted the results after a five-hour argument. We later allowed for a by-election,” explained Sethibe.
Two days after elections, Sethibe was confronted by 12 elderly women from the BDP and 60 members of the UDC, who came to pledge their votes for him in the coming by-election.
According to him, they were equally not pleased about the cheating tactics that happened at the counting centre.
to Southern District Council. His fellow councillors were hopeful and eagerly waiting for him at the chamber.
Though he managed to sail through, it is not easy for Sethibe as he has to maintain his standard and fight for his motions to be passed at both Moshupa and Southern District Council.
His strategy is to pose questions than to present motions because he is thin on the ground. He said through questions, he is able to get answers because in motions he will have to lobby support from other councillors, which is not easy.
“I also prefer making a quick stand before most councillors to make my point heard before the house and strengthen my points. Politics is a dirty game and my family is my pillar of strength.
During campaigns they called me a destitute, leswafe le le sa boneng, but I remained calm and confident that I will retain this seat.
I have achieved a lot so far in terms of developments and I am happy that my constituents have trusted me with their votes.
“As a businessman, I used to assist them in socio-economic matters before the social workers to extend their helping hand. They even suggested that I be their headman, but I rejected the offer.
There are so many notable changes that I brought to Diboto among them re-consideration of allocation of plots to squatters in the ward of which the government wanted to demolish their temporary structures. Some of the residents resided there before establishment of land boards, so I pushed for allocation of plots through special dispensation and most of them have also received houses through the destitute housing programme,” Sethibe said.
Though he admits that his ward is marred with issues of water, he is does not want to believe that it is sabotage from the ruling party to topple him from his seat.
Councillor Kagisanyo Tau of Nyorosi ward described Sethibe as a weapon and a driver of socio-economic impact development. He said his mature contribution makes him a perfect representative to best represent the people and he was missed before the by-election.
He noted that at the UDC caucus with Sethibe there, he would push issues of national interest.
The Southern District Council is made up of 64 councillors from four sub-councils being Moshupa, Kanye, Goodhope and Mabutsane Administrative authorities. Sethibe has survived the odds and he is a force to reckon with.