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‘Daily News deliberately twisted my statements’

Mmatli says his words were twisted
Dear Editor, The Botswana Daily News of Thursday 14 January, 2016 (Paper No 251, page 10) carried an article titled: “ESP e tla thusa go tlhabolola matshelo” literally meaning “ESP will help to positively transform lives,” in which my address of a kgotla meeting was supposedly the subject. In the said article I am alleged to have said “… people must take this programme seriously because it is going to change their lives.”

For the record, I would like to state that although the ESP was a small part of my address, it was taken out of context and twisted to manufacture a new and an untrue message altogether. I never uttered such words as the headline attributes to me, nor the quotation, and believe that the deliberate twisting of words was done with malicious intent. As way of background, it is common knowledge that kgotla meetings are the primary fora for Members of Parliament to engage constituents.

As such I am currently on my first leg of meetings in the Molepolole South constituency starting from January 11, 2016 till January 21, 2016.

The main purpose of these meetings is twofold: (a) to brief the residents about what transpired in the last sitting of the 2nd session of the 11th Parliament that ended on December 11, 2015 and (b) to get from them ideas that I could present during the next sitting of Parliament commencing on February 1, 2016. During a kgotla meeting at Lephaleng Ward on January 11, 2016 I briefed residents on the highlights of immediate past sitting of parliament, which included the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by the President of the Republic of Botswana, and the Economic Stimulus Programme, among other things. 

It is in this context that I briefly narrated what the President had to say about ESP. I informed the gathering about the key sectors which were being planned to benefit from ESP, included land servicing and road construction specifically.

All the while when I briefed the kgotla, I kept emphasising that ‘these are not my words, but are the President’s words.’ I also emphasised that it was immaterial whether I believed in the ESP or not. My job as the area MP is to inform the residents about it.

I explained at the same meeting that it would be improper for me to critisise ESP at my kgotla meetings, specifically mentioning that my personal views about the programme would only be made at a political rally. Sadly, all these explanations and statements of caution, which I purposefully made,

were carefully left out of the Daily News article in question.

Also conspicuously absent from the article is my expression of frustration and disappointment at the lack of clarity regarding what ESP has for the people of Molepolole. I informed the residents that I will continue to ask hard questions in the coming parliament if government does not come out clear on this question – this was not reported in the article. 

I also reminded the residents that the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Thapelo Olopeng has addressed the youth on a number of occasions and at different forums about ESP, and asked them to position themselves strategically to benefit from the programme.

The minister encourages the youth to register companies through which, he says, they will benefit from ESP. I said at that meeting that I encourage the youth to do as the Minister advises them to do. I furthermore reminded the audience that I was only delivering the message from government.

I kept on repeating this disclaimer deliberately so that I will not later be accused of overpromising when government fails to deliver or under delivers on the ESP promises; more so my constituency does not overtly stand to benefit anything from the programme.

The crux of my argument was that even  development projects that have long been promised my constituency have been postponed over the years. It is a shame and a sign of haphazard (or lack thereof) that Molepolole does not have storm water drainage system, while such a development is underway in smaller villages like Letlhakeng, for example.  

Furthermore, I said it is unacceptable that up to now the sewerage system that Molepolole was promised since 1997 has not yet materialised, whereas many villages that are much smaller geographically and in population size have such facilities. We are told that the system is still at design stage almost 20 years later. It is true that I asked the residents to remain hopeful as reported, but this was within the context that they should not stop demanding developments for their village.


Tlamelo Mmatli, PhD.

Member of Parliament

Molepolole South

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