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Boteti: The VP's village

Majority of the people at Tsogwane's constituency are wallowing in poverty
For many years the village of Rakops has been widely known for the regular occurrence of floods, its cement-like soils which can transform into a dusty wind in the blink of an eye. Mmegi Staff Writer CHAKALISA DUBE visited Rakops this week

RAKOPS: The village is also located in the Boteti sub-district, which is considered one of the financial hubs of the country. Despite featuring many poor settlements, Boteti is rich in diamonds. Diamonds contribute notably to the country’s GDP, which explains why Boteti is considered the hub of wealth for the country.

Because of its strategic positioning, Rakops is also used as a transit route to various tourist destinations such as Maun. 

However, just recently the village added another positive feature to its profile. The village is home to the country’s Vice President (VP) Slumber Tsogwane.

Tsogwane who is also Boteti West Member of Parliament (MP) was sworn-in as VP last Wednesday. In the process he became the first Motswana from a minority group to occupy the position.

On Wednesday afternoon when Yours Truly visited Rakops where Tsogwane hails, there was still a lot of euphoria in the village surrounding his ascendance to the prestigious VP position.

At the village post office where some villagers access various services, a majority of them waxed lyrical about Tsogwane’s elevation to the VP position.

Through interactions with the villagers, it was clear that Tsogwane, who was known to be a soccer fanatic, was widely respected by most of the constituents and those close to him say his humility was unrivalled.

To the majority here, the elevation of Tsogwane was also viewed as a major boost in relation to the prospects of uplifting the development of the village and Boteti as a whole. Many of the villagers also view the latest development as a strong suggestion that the government has changed tact and strongly recognises minority tribes.

In addition, a notable number of villagers subscribe to a stereotype that areas of those in power (VP and President) tend to be favoured when it came to key developments.

“Tsogwane has enhanced our reputation as the people of Boteti. I also assume that because he is now in a more influential position, he will strongly push for key developments to come to his village and by extension the whole of Boteti. We have been neglected for so long in terms of developments.

“(A) Majority of the people of Boteti are wallowing in poverty.  The developments we need are those that can create more sustainable employment, which was what many people need the most at the moment,” a 40-year old mother of four, Therisanyo Mosarwa who is a vendor near Rakops primary hospital, said.

Twenty-three-year-old Simon Opaletswe is also amongst those elated by the sudden elevation of Tsogwane to the position of VP. Opaletswe who survives through menial jobs, took his time articulating his position.

“I think constituencies held by vice presidents are usually favoured when it comes to development. Through his position, Tsogwane can have strong influence in taking key developments to Boteti.

“I am not saying

that Rakops or Boteti should entirely be favoured when it comes to developments. It is widely known that we are not at par with other areas in the country when it comes to development. 

“We are far much behind. That is why I hope that Tsogwane will use his new position to help us earn equity in terms of developments because he now holds a very influential position,” he said. 

But not everyone is excited about Tsogwane’s sudden elevation to his new position.

“I agree that he has enhanced the reputation of Boteti, but I think that he will be overburdened with his work as the VP as well as being the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairperson. As a result he will struggle to influence policies meant to address key issues in Boteti,” 32-year-old Pogiso Maphane, who operates a wielding and fabrication business opposite R.A. Bailey complex, said.

According to him, Tsogwane has also been in the National Assembly for many years and held influential positions but failed to effectively address issues such as unemployment that are troubling many residents of Boteti.

For this reason he has doubts that under his new position he will make a meaningful change to the lives of the people of Boteti.

According to Maphane, the growing levels of unemployment are directly linked to crime in the Boteti area.

Furthermore, Maphane noted that the connection between Tsogwane and constituents would also be lessened as a result of his new role in government, which is something that can work against the people of Boteti.

“Because the position of VP is very demanding, Tsogwane might not have enough chance to visit us and understand our concerns. This means that he may not be able to effectively advocate for our interests in Parliament,” the 32-year-old said.

Obakeng Tuelo also shares Maphane’s view that the legislator will encounter challenges when it comes to the balancing of his many responsibilities at the party and government. This he said means that the VP will not be able to fully push government to address challenges of his constituents.

“There is also a strong indication that Tsogwane will be quitting politics next year. If at all he will be leaving, then I do not think he will do much in terms of pushing for developments to come to our village.

“If his role beyond the position of VP goes past a year, my hope is that he will use his influence to bring us developments,” Tuelo, who is unemployed said.  In the recent past there was strong speculation that Tsogwane would quit active politics next year. That is yet to be determined.

Newly appointed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo has been touted by many as a possible BDP Boteti West candidate at the next general elections.




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