Mmegi Online :: Govít succumbs to NED magnatesí demands
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Friday 16 November 2018, 13:42 pm.
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Govít succumbs to NED magnatesí demands

Concerns raised by North East District magnates in a 2012 strong-worded protest letter to government over uneven distribution of national wealth and resources will be addressed through the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), Mmegi has learnt.
By Tefo Pheage Fri 22 Jan 2016, 15:33 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Govít succumbs to NED magnatesí demands








The 11 petitioners, all Kalanga, had written a letter of complaint to then Minister of Transport and Communications and now Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefhi saying that their district was deliberately neglected by government.

The petitioners were the late Chief Justice, Julius Nganunu, former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and former head of Botswana Meat Commission,  Martin Mannathoko, former top diplomat, Edwin Matenge, World Group of Companies shareholder and businessman, Samuel Mpuchane, retired top civil servant, Gobe Matenge, one of Botswana’s prominent lawyers and former acting Motor Vehicle Accident Fund chairman, Tendekani Malebeswa, Botswana’s first qualified accountant, Lawrence Maika, former ambassador and Lazare Kaplan Botswana managing director, Alfred Dube, and consultant and former teacher, Uyega Sola.

The men said their complaints stemmed from the appalling road conditions in the district, which have gone for many years without being given attention by government.

“The worst hit is the area covered by the Tati West constituency where the district capital, Masunga is located.  This area has been discriminated against and virtually blockaded from development by the government over the years,” reads the letter.

The letter stated that, “... although this letter addresses the specific issue of the roads, we want the government to know that there is a general complaint that the district has been deliberately denied development.”

Mmegi has learnt that the letter has not gone unnoticed since delivery and has been sparking debate at high levels of power and will be addressed through the ESP, where government has undertaken to construct 42 roads in Botswana.

The contentious roads - the Tshesebe/Mosojane/Masunga road and the Sebina/Masunga/Ramokgwebana road, which are the principal routes into the North East District - had not been given attention for decades by the government.

Last week, the area Member of Parliament (MP), Biggie Butale toured the constituency informing residents that the much-talked about road construction would be addressed  through the ESP.

“The road linking Tshesebe and Masunga that passes through Mosojane is one of the roads that will be done through the ESP.  The road issue is now before the consultant and tendering will follow soon,” Butale told Mmegi.

Butale said the residents should expect the road works to begin not later than 2018.  The total road works are expected to cost the government an estimated P200 million.

Butale says this is because of the many access roads and bridges that would

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form part of the road’s construction.

Butale who did not want to be drawn into the politics of the issue said the roads that have not been catered for by the ESP will be undertaken through governmental plans. 

One such is the Sebina/Masunga/Ramokgwebana road, which the petitioners say now attracts heavy traffic transporting goods between Namibia, Ngamiland and Zimbabwe.

In the petition, the complainants stated that the lack of proper road network has robbed the area of serious private sector investment, as potential investors find it difficult to transport materials and supplies into the district.

 “This has had a seriously negative impact on the economy of the district, manifesting itself, inter alia, in the spreading and rising levels of poverty accompanied by falling school enrollments, which phenomena were previously unknown in this part of the country,” further states the letter.

They stated that,  “…even sub-district headquarters elsewhere in the country have good road connections, further adding that this inequitable situation of Masunga is not only throttling development but is also a glaring violation of espoused national principles”.

They charge that the capital Masunga is not connected to most of the villages in the district.

They say that, “... the grievance we have is exacerbated by the knowledge that this road has been determined to be of very high priority by the authority in all development plans”.

They dismissed the recession as an excuse saying that, “...the government now pleads poverty as pretext.  We are told there is recession, yet new projects are being undertaken elsewhere in the country.  What wrong have we the people of North East District done to have such punishment metted out”.

The spokesperson of the protest group, Matenge said they have not been briefed about the developments following the letter.

“Nonetheless we welcome the development, but as you may be aware we have never agreed to the government’s reasoning that there is no money.  So we still believe that the same energy and thought that was channelled to the recent development will also be channelled to other issues of concern in our region,” he said.

He said since their follow-up letter to the government they have not met to discuss the way forward as they were still monitoring the situation with keen interest.   He added that their hope can only be that government is not making empty promises as has been the case all along.

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