Despite water being one of the basic needs for every life form, residents of Boteti and North West districts have resigned themselves to make do with none at all or adapt to a smelly substitute for potable water.
During the launch of Vice President Slumber Tsogwane as a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate for Boteti East recently, one village elder told President Mokgweetsi Masisi that government must address the issue of water if they really care about them. “For many years we have been subjected to water that smells terribly even after boiling it and we wonder if really government cares about us,” said the old man.
In an interview Vice President Tsogwane rebuffed the issue, saying it is being addressed and people know about it. “This is part of the project that has been funded by the World Bank. I wonder why people want to make it a political issue,” he said, dismissing allegations that the water crisis in Boteti threatens his political career.
Tsogwane is said to have confided in Masisi that if the water situation is not addressed before October elections he might lose as residents are up in arms. “The opposition has found an easy weapon to campaign against Tsogwane by stating that he has failed to address their basic need which is water. His campaign team has been advised about the challenge they face, which makes their job difficult as voters shun them,” revealed a source.
Adding more political pressure on Tsogwane is former President Ian Khama who has vowed to ensure that he loses elections. Tsogwane is now finding himself between a rock and a hard place. In 2014 he won by a slim margin and his constituency remains one of the marginal ones after he garnered 5790 while Sam Digwa of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) got 5549, a margin of 241. Tjiliga Letsholo of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was a distant third with 622 votes.
Former President Khama recently announced that he will be going to Boteti to launch Digwa. “I am going to Boteti to tell the electorates not to vote for Tsogwane because he is no longer a trustworthy politician,” Khama declared in Serowe last month.
Some residents have already started an online petition calling on government to act on their water crisis.
In 2013 WUC announced that they are embarking on the southern cluster water supply projected to cost P190 million which would cover Mokobaxane, Mopipi, Kedia, Xhumo, Mmadikola, Toromoja, Rakops and Xere. Another project which had infuriating residents of Boteti before the 2014 general elections was the Boteti Northern Cluster Water Supply (BNCWS) where P160 million had been set aside to address water crisis in the area. Nothing has happened to date.
Government had promised to build Reverse Osmosis Plants (ROP) at Diphuduhudu and Motopi to treat the smelly water before it is supplied to the villages. The project has since been halted. Highly placed sources have revealed that government is working around the clock to ensure the issue is addressed. “A team of experts has been dispatched to Boteti to see how the situation can be rectified before the General Elections,” revealed a source at WUC.