Member of Parliament (MP) for Thamaga/Kumakwane constituency Palelo Motaosane has made history by becoming the first ever MP from his area to fail to land a cabinet post since Johnson Nkoane of Kweneng South in 1969.
When President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced his new Cabinet earlier this week, Motaosane failed to make the cut. The legislator who won the constituency formerly known as Kweneng South replaced Tshenolo Mabeo who was the MP for the area in the 11th Parliament.
Motaosane beat Mabeo in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) primary elections before a walk-over on Ofentse Khumomotse of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) at last month’s General Election.
The constituency has been known for producing Cabinet materials, but now Motaosane’s failure to make the President’s Cabinet has broken the constituency’s tradition (of cabinet representation) set by Nkoane, lost in death by Mmusi only to be redeemed by Kokorwe, and broken again by him.
The third vice president of Botswana, Peter Mmusi once held the then constituency until the 1979 General Election when he was moved to contest Gaborone South constituency. Mmusi lost it to the late Englishman Kgabo who represented Kweneng South as the Minister of Home Affairs in 1984.
Mmusi reclaimed the Kweneng South constituency from Kgabo in the 1989 elections and later served as both vice president and Minister of Local Government and Lands.
Mmusi resigned from Cabinet in 1992 and former president Festus Mogae was elected vice president and Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Mmusi left the constituency without a Cabinet representative until his death before the elections in 1994.
When the constituency changed from Kweneng South to just Thamaga, former Speaker of the National Assembly Kokorwe took over in 1994, but could not make the cut to Cabinet, at least not for the next five years. Then after the 1999 elections, Kokorwe redeemed herself when the then new president, Festus Mogae appointed her the assistant Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, putting the constituency back on a Cabinet post winning streak. In 2004, the constituency was changed back to the Kweneng South, so Kokorwe then served as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, becoming the first woman to hold the position, from 2004 to 2008.
But when former president Ian Khama ascended to presidency in 2008, he appointed Kokorwe as the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, a position she held until 2009. After the 2009 elections, Thamaga/Kumakwane constituency ushered in a new MP from the BDP in the name of Dr John Seakgosing, who as a medical doctor by profession, landed the Cabinet post as the Minister of Health up until 2014. Mabeo ousted the good doctor in the BDP primary elections before the 2014 elections and he went on to win the elections under the BDP ticket.
Mabeo continued the tradition
After a couple of Cabinet reshuffles, Mabeo then found himself as the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, a position which he held until last month. Mabeo could not continue after losing to Motaosane who was the councillor for Thamaga North from 2004 to 2019.
However, residents of Thamaga/Kumakwane’s concerns were that the ministerial appointments delayed developments to their area as the MPs had to also deal with their Ministerial assignments.
This was reflected in their pattern of voting in the BDP primaries as they opted for the former councillor Thamaga North Motaosane despite his lowly qualifications. Motaosane is a Junior Secondary School Certificate (JC) holder and he became a councillor from 2004 till 2019 when he was voted into Parliament.
“My constituency is one of those which are not developed. I have served as a councillor for 15 years, therefore it made me closer to my people and know their needs. This will help me to focus on the constituency and to consult them on issues affecting them. There is a serious problem of water shortage at Kumakwane, which needs to be addressed.
Young people from Kumakwane have not been allocated plots for years and it is my responsibility to know what the problem could be and when will the issue be solved and how. Another issue is unemployment that is high in my area and it forces youth to migrate to Gaborone to look for employment,” Motaosane said.
He said the constituency did not have big shops to employ youth.
The area MP said he would be forced to have a meeting with the youth, both employed and unemployed, on how best could the issue be addressed or how their youth could benefit from government programmes.
Some of the MPs’ concerns include the projects that have long been on hold since National Development Plan (NDP) both 9, 10 and 11.
He continued: “I need to know why these projects, which included a unified school, Rural Administration Centre (RAC) and a hospital have not been done. Our developments keep on being postponed without consultation with residents.
What is most painful is that students from Thamaga/Kumakwane are not given boarding at Moshupa Senior Secondary School. Those students travel 18km or more if you are from Kumakwane everyday. Some parents cannot afford to pay transport while others are forced to rent houses for their children. That is a risk for children at their age nowadays”.
Thamaga/Kumakwane constituency has a population size of 36,402.