Francistown — With barely 34 days left before Botswana's 11th general election, prospective candidates vying for political office continue to welcome, with open arms, every platform accorded to them to sell themselves and the political formations they represent to well over 900 000 eligible voters expected to go to the polls this year.
Monday evening was no different as Mr Wynter Mmolotsi of Alliance for Progressives (AP), Mr Tiroeaone Ntsima of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)'s Mr Modiri Lucas took turns during a Radio Botswana debate live broadcast in Francistown.
The trio is vying for the Francistown South seat, which has been in the hands of Mr Mmolotsi of AP for the past 10 years.
For his part, Mr Mmolotsi said his decade-long track record as a parliamentarian of substance, had transcended the constituency and changed for the better, the lives of ordinary Batswana.
He said the recent adjustment of the pay structure that had benefitted both the police and the soldiers was a result of one of the motions that he had presented at the August house.
"I am also the reason we now have pre-paid electricity. Due to my efforts, plans are underway to do the same with water. Batswana will soon start to use water prepaid cards," he said.
Further, Mr Mmolotsi said his motions among them; motions calling for the establishment of rehabilitation facilities in major centres across the country as well as one on construction of old age homes had been adopted by Parliament and were only awaiting implementation.
He also said he was happy that his motion on dual citizenship had resulted in the establishment of the blue card. He however said if given yet another chance to represent the people of Francistown South, he would come guns blazing to push for more developments in the area.
Regarding the closure of BCL and Tati Nickel mines, Mr Mmolotsi said his party felt the decision to close the mines was done in haste and was not necessary. For his part, the BDP parliamentary hopeful, Mr Lucas said he felt strongly that the youth, who constitute the highest population in Francistown South, were not well represented at Parliament.
Also, Mr Lucas said once at the helm of the constituency, he would advocate for young entrepreneurs to be allotted land to do business and call on government to bring in investors and industries to set up in Francistown South, thereby creating the much needed employment for the youths.
It is also his wish to group together farmers in Francistown and the periphery to join forces and run Botswana Meat Commission Francistown abattoir profitably.
His other pledge is to push for clinics in the area to operate round the clock as a way of easing provision of healthcare and services to the people.
On the closure of the BCL and Tati Nickel mines, Mr Lucas underscored that lack of proceeds motivated the closure. For a long time, he said, the mine was bleeding the government billions of pula in its efforts to resuscitate it, but in vain. As such, government, he said, came to a point where it decided to close down the mine.
"At the time when the decision to close the mine was taken, the price of copper was at an all-time low and closure was therefore inevitable," he said adding that now the position of government was to try and forge partnership with the private sector and open the mines as clearly spelt out in the BDP manifesto.
Meanwhile UDC representative, Mr Ntsima said the 2019 general election presented his party and partners to take over the reins of power from BDP, which had been at the helm since 1966. He cited the rife youth unemployment, poor infrastructure and health system as some of the reasons that UDC should be given power.
"Let me reiterate that UDC will create 100 000 jobs, open BCL and Tati Nickel mines, increase student allowance to P2 500," he said, adding that to date he was yet to hear convincing reasons that led to the closure of the mines.
Rather than shutting down the mines owing to depreciation of the prizes of copper and nickel, Mr Ntsima said stock piling with a view to sell once the commodities appreciated in the market was the best option. He blamed the closure of the two mines on gross incompetence, adding that if given a chance to lead, UDC would make sure only knowledgeable people managed BCL and other mines.
As it is, he said, thousands of people and businesses that fed from the mines had been left in the lurch.
Source : BOPA