The Good Hope/Mabule Member of Parliament James Mathokgwane says his term at parliament is going to be one of the trying times ever. Mathokgwane says he has inherited one of the most undeveloped constituencies in the country and the fact that he is a member of opposition will not be of help to him.
The newly elected MP who ousted former area MP Kitso Mokaila is faced with a mammoth task of bringing developments to the devastated constituency whereas he is faced with a challenge from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members whom he says their intention is to frustrate the opposition in parliament.
Road map for the constituency
Despite all this Mathokgwane has vowed to do all in his power to see developments coming into his constituency to improve the livelihood of his constituents. Speaking in an interview with The Patriot on Sunday this week Mathokgwane said there are many problems facing his constituency. These include according to him poor road networks, acute shortage of water, declining education state and high unemployment rate among youth.
The legislator has placed these issues as his priority to address during his five-year team at parliament. “Since I have inherited one of the most undeveloped constituencies in the country, these will be my priority matters to address,” said Mathokgwane. He revealed that currently he is focusing on an awareness campaign for Good Hope/Mabule since a little has been said about it in the past 10 years.
During this campaign he is speaking about the issues that trouble his constituents to all the Ministries for them to know these problems. He said this is a way of posing a challenge to these ministries to act on urgent issues that cannot wait for the National Development Plan 11 (NDP). “I am already in constant conversation with the minister responsible for roads and we are on the same page about which roads to make priority in the area,” he outlined.
According to Mathokgwane the Borobadilape/Mokatako road and the one that connects Good Hope to Gathwane are the two roads that need urgent consideration. He said the Phitshane Molopo-Mabule road is already underway as contractors are on the ground working on it.
The deteriorating state of education in the area is one concern that the MP has promised to take upon his shoulders to tackle. The just released form 5 results have proved that there is a problem in the area. The performance of Good Hope Senior Secondary School declined acutely and the Member of Parliament says the ministry knows about the problems at the school. “I have told them about problems at the school, the students and management also told them,” he said.
At the end of the five-year term in parliament Mathokgwane want to see a change in the livelihood of his constituents. He want improved road network, easy access to electricity at standard connection price for everyone, improved education as well as proper infrastructure development such as malls and banks. Since Barolong Farms was once the bread basket of Botswana the ambitious legislator says he want to see the region going back to that status.
“Later on during the year we will start focusing on farming as we will have a series of meeting with farmers to come up with a turnaround strategy to revive agriculture in the area. There are some farmers in South Africa who are willing to come here to and help local farmers with ideas,” revealed Mathokgwane.
Mathokgwane urged the people of his constituency not to wait for developments from government but come with their own initiatives. He said the Village Development Committees should identify one project per village and do it as there are some people who are willing to help with finances.
The legislator revealed that he has also come up with some initiatives to help the people of Good Hope/Mabule. According to him a Youth Funding Scheme is on the cards which will assist the youth who already have running projects to supplement what the government gives them. Since most of the people in the area are poor Mathokgwane said they also set up a burial scheme where he pays a sum of P40 000 to a certain burial society and members of the public will pay only P16 a month and get assisted at the time of the funeral.
In promoting good performance and competition among schools in the area Mathokgwane revealed that they have introduced a floating trophy to be given to the best performing school. In addition to this the number one school will receive a cheque of P30 000. “Some people have approached me and they want to assist improve education in our area,” he said.
The Member of Parliament said it is disheartening that a big constituency like his does not have even one big shopping mall or a bank. He however pointed that he has met some investors who are willing to build a shopping mall in Good Hope. “We are also in talks with one of the banks to open a branch in the constituency,” revealed Mathokgwane. He said this will help address the high rate of unemployment in the area as well as help bring developments.
Experience at parliament
Mathokgwane however does not see a smooth road to achieving all that he intends to deliver saying it is difficult to operate in parliament as a person especially being from opposition. He pointed that the intension of the BDP members is to frustrate the opposition. Nonetheless he said this will not deter him from doing what he has been taken to parliament to do.
He criticised the current parliament saying it is failing to play its role as an oversight body. Mathokgwane parliament is failing to make the cabinet and the President of the Republic account for what they do.
“Instead of making them account, parliament is rather protecting certain institutions such as the Executive even though it is the responsibility of every Member of Parliament to protect the resources of this country,” said the MP. He went on to say that parliament does not question issues but just rubber stamp what the cabinet says.
The seemingly annoyed MP gave an example with the on-going exercise of passing budgets for different ministries. He pointed that in the process the parliament does not question how the money that was given to these ministries in the last financial year was being used.
According to Mathokgwane this is despite the Auditor General’s report that has clearly stated that there were a number of funds miss-use cases in some ministry while at others funds are missing.
Mathokgwane who is serving his first term in parliament following the October 2014 General elections says this is making life difficult for them as opposition members. He pointed that it is very easy for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs to shoot down any motion from opposition since they have the numbers.
He gave an example about his motion on Statistics Botswana which was nearly blocked even though it had documented facts about corruption and mal-administration. “Although the motion was passed it went through by the help of a handful of BDP members while the majority of them were against it. People think that when we talk about corruption on such institutions we are pointing fingers on BDP but it is not so. We are simply saying as a country we cannot afford to have institutions operating the way Statistics Botswana operates,” said Mathokgwane.
He came out guns blazing at some BDP members of parliament who he says are not worried about the livelihood of the people they represent in parliament but are more worried about protecting the party that they belong to. The legislator said as members of the Umbrella for democratic Change (UDC) their role is simple. “We here to make these people account, they may have numbers in parliament but we will make as much noise as possible about these issues so that the public out there knows what the ruling party is doing,” said Mathokgwane.