MP for Molepolole North Mohammed Khan has been accused of neglecting his constituency ever since he was elected into office in October 2014. Speaking at a kgotla meeting addressed by Speaker of the National Assembly recently, Ponatshego Motlobong-a resident of Borakalalo ward in Molepolole North constituency, complained that some MPs disappear from their constituencies once elected into office, even when parliament is in recess. He said this denies the residents the benefit of quality representation in the August house. He fingered Khan, saying residents of Borakalalo hardly interact with the MP or get feedback about developments in parliament from him.
The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) MP, who sat through the proceedings alongside Molepolole South MP Dr Tlamelo Mmatli, laughed off the accusation. Khan said Ponatshego is a direct uncle to former Borakalalo councillor Cheri Khan, who lost to Arafat Khana both in primary elections and in the general elections as an independent candidate. He later told The Patriot on Sunday that those peddling such accusations were detractors from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), who are bitter that the opposition has toppled the ruling party in the latter's erstwhile traditional stronghold.
"I have held many meetings in different wards and undertaken many projects to empower those in my constituency-particularly the youth, to access government programmes, including the most populated Borakalalo ward. The accusation is unfounded and a deliberate attempt by BDP operatives calculated to discredit me. They are sore losers but cannot win by peddling untruths, " he said confidently. "Bakwena know these people. Re na le digole mme re di amogela hela le ha ba latlhella mahoko le ha ba sa tlhwaahala. Dr Mmatli explained everything and even revealed that I am way ahead of him in terms of consulting in my constituency," he said.
He added: "We hold different meetings with school management, we visit schools and clinics. For the very first time (Scottish Livingstone) hospital management was very happy when we visited them. We recently donated computers/ laptops and ipads after securing sponsorship worth over P25000, together with Gamecity vouchers for P750 / 250 during a prize giving day at Kgari Sechele where the CEO of New Era College Mr E Ghodrati officiated. We have been in close contact with baruti and dikgosi".
Televise parliament debates
Meanwhile residents of Molepolole told the Speaker-Gladys Kokorwe and her entourage to push for parliamentary debates to be broadcast on national television and/ or radio stations to improve access to the public nationwide. They argued that since it is common cause that not all members of the public-spread throughout the country-can access parliament buildings to attend sessions, it should be obvious that other platforms like televisoion and radio can be used to address access issues. This, they said, is common practice in other developed democracies and there is no reason why Botswana cannot follow suit. They further argued that it is a disservice to the public for state media to be biased towards only reporting meetings and events officiated by the President and his cabinet ministers from the ruling party. Kokorwe, who is touring the country "taking parliament to the people", was addressing a kgotla meeting in Molepolole recently.
Elderly Ntona Gaorutwe commended Kokorwe for taking parliament to the people but said such efforts could be improved by broadcasting debates by legislators on state television and radio stations. "It is not enough that we have a radio programme (on RB1) that summarises what transpired in parliament. We need to hear the legislators articulate issues themselves and have an opportunity to interrogate them," he said.
Gaorutwe said it disappointing that Kokorwe once proposed a motion to control floor crossing but it has never come to fruition. Another resident Itumeleng Gaobotse, said the world has gone digital and it is only natural that parliament of Botswana should follow suit. He said the national broadcaster and radio stations could cary prerecorded material where live broadcasts are not possible.
Councillor for Borakalalo ward Arafat Khan took to social media the same day and wrote: "taking parliament to the people, my foot, waste of tax payers money, they must broadcast parliament live on BTV,that's taking parliament to the people".