Tonota troubled over Gaolathe's absence

Staff Writer
FRANCISTOWN: Anxiety is growing in the Tonota North constituency, which has remained without a parliamentarian since the hospitalisation of its Member of Parliament, Baledzi Gaolathe.

The MP has been in hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, for several months now.

Some councillors are concerned that the absence of Gaolathe will son jeopardise development in the constituency.Councillor Kenosi Mabalane of Mathangwane North Ward believes that Gaolathe should retire. He said by doing so Gaolathe would be doing justice to his constituents. "The constituents should express their complaints about the absence of their legislator and they should call for his retirement so that he paves way for fresh elections in the area," he said.

According to Mabalane, ever since Gaolathe was hospitalised, the concerns of the constituents in Tonota North 'have been left hanging'.

He also noted that it has been difficult for them as councillors to address the concerns since there is no one to report to in Parliament. He likened the constituency to a child whose parents have perished.

Another councillor, James Dlamini, of Mathangwane South Ward, said the situation in that area is heart-rending because the person that the people have voted to represent them is now not available to do so.

"When an MP is voted into Parliament, he or she is voted to represent the people who voted for him. But in a situation where an MP becomes

absent for about seven months, he or she should recuse himself from the parliamentary position," said Dlamini.

He also emphasised that Gaolathe should not have stood for elections in the first place since he was already not well towards the general election last year.

However, Councillor Magula Chilume of Marobela Ward said there should be someone appointed by Parliament to act on behalf of the ailing parliamentarian. He also indicated that it would not be proper for people to force Gaolathe to retire, adding that the decision to do so should be on his own accord.

Chilume is not a lone voice as councillor Phillip Makale of Matsitama Ward shared the same sentiments. Makale suggested that Parliament should assign specially elected MPs to step into Gaolathe's shoes.

He, however, disputed allegations that some people are already campaigning for Gaolathe's position. "It is just speculation that we have heard from the media. I only know that those who are campaigning are doing it for the 2014 elections," he quipped.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members from the central committee recently met with Tonota North constituents to brief them on Gaolathe's health. He is also a former finance minister.



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