Botswana: Natural Resources to Empower Economy

Mahalapye — Parliamentary candidates have presented Mahalapye East constituency as a location with the potential to empower its inhabitants through the use of natural resources.

Canvassing for votes during a live broadcast, Radio Botswana Parliamentary debates on October 6 at Parwe Junior Secondary School in Mahalapye, Dr Ditshupo Maje of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Mr Lazarus Lekgoanyana of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Mr Yandani Boko of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) were convinced that the area has the potential to improve the livelihoods of the people.

Dr Maje of the BDP stated that the ruling party had seen it fit to continue in government. "I believe that the BDP had served the nation well and there was no doubt that we can do better," he said.

He said the current leadership style had revived the ruling party's fortunes and therefore it was ideal for the nation to extend the leadership stay in office.

Dr Maje said through informed decision-making processes and committed leadership, the BDP government had turned the country into an economy that is able to run its affairs.

"We care for our people, as we provide them with free education and health services," said Dr Maje.

Dr Maje however acknowledged challenges of poverty, unemployment, shortage of drugs and dilapidated infrastructure at some of the educational facilities.

He assured electorate that BDP government was determined to address such challenges head-on.

He indicated that the proposed railway line from Mmamabula to Lephalale in South Africa would not only ease transportation of goods and services, but would also create employment and business opportunities for the constituents.

He said Mahalapye River, which passes through Setsile and Mokoswane, among other localities in the constituency, was one of the natural resources with the potential of improving livelihoods.

He said water from the river could be used to cater for small scale projects in agriculture, as such increase food production and reduce the wage bill of importing food products.

Dr Maje assured the constituents that the BDP-led government was determined to deal with corruption.

Dr Maje also encouraged constituents to utilise part of their residential land to engage in small scale projects to improve their livelihoods.

Mr Lekgoanyana of the BPF was of the view that it was time to change. "We want a government that will serve the interests of the people, he said.

He said BPF was determined to improve conditions of service for public officers and ensures equitable distribution of the resources.

He said the BPF government would take decisions after thorough consultation and engagement with the nation, adding that there was a need for improved political tolerance, which he said was lacking under the leadership of the BDP government.

He added that BPF advocated for empowerment of the youth and women.

There will be a forum where women and youth issues will be thoroughly deliberated, said Mr Lekgoanyana.

He said BPF was determined to improve accessibility of programmes aimed at empowering youth and fighting unemployment and poverty.

He said the BPF was worried by shortage of accommodation for public officers, poor road infrastructure and congestion of students in classes.

Mr Lekgoanyana said the situation compromised the delivery of quality education and therefore the BPF advocated for a teachr/pupil ratio of 1:30.

Mr Lekgoanyana observed that Mahalapye East was greatly affected by shortage of health services and specialised personnel such as doctors and midwives.

Therefore, Mr Lekgoanyana said the BPF government would establish maternity wards at all health facilities in the constituency.

He added that BPF was determined to empower local businesses, improve and diversify the economy, therefore advocating for communities to benefit from natural resources in the localities such as sand from Mahalapye River.

He also said the BPF advocated for improvement of A1 Road into a dual carriage to ease traffic congestion.

Mr Boko of UDC said their message spoke to all and was clear to be understood.

"Our manifesto was drafted after a thorough consultation with the people, therefore whatever we are deliberating on will amicably address their concerns," he said.

He said UDC was clear on the issues of employment creation, by setting a time frame and the number of employment opportunities to be created.

Mr Boko said UDC was determined to provide a living wage of P3 000 because the current wages could not sustain minimal livelihood.

He also noted that UDC had resolved to increase old age pension to P1 500.

"We are informed by a study that was conducted by experts; other nations like Namibia were better off in terms of providing for the elderly," he said.

He said it was unfortunate to note that communities were not benefiting from resources abundant in their localities.

He decried that Makwate with a site for mining gravel that was used in improving road surfaces, the community was not getting the desired benefits.

As a custodian of community development, Mr Boko said the VDC must generate income from harvesting of the rocks in that location.

He also added that residents of Mokoswane and Setsile must also benefit from sand mining activities in their localities.

"The VDC must charge people fees for mining sand along the river and use the monies for the developmental purposes," he said.

Mr Boko said UDC government was determined to improve the standard of education.

He said though the current government was advocating for information technology based learning, current school infrastructure were not ready to accommodate the proposed change.

"Upon resumption of duty as a new government, the UDC shall focus on providing a conducive work environment to cater for the proposed changes," said Mr Boko.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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