Poverty-stricken Goodhope/Mabule goes to polls

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The poverty-stricken Goodhope/Mabule constituency is the centre of attraction because of the hotly contested by-election tomorrow.

Residents of the nine wards, in Goodhope/Mabule will decide on the day, who will be their next Member of Parliament (MP) after, the shock resignation of James Mathokgwane six months after being elected. Mathokgwane is now one of the regional managers at SPEDU.

Goodhope/Mabule wards are Goodhope, Pitsane, Rakhuna, Ramatlabama, Hebron, Mokgomane/Metlojane, Ga-Molopo, Mmakgori and Mabule-Sekhutlane.

This time around, the voters will decide between the candidature of Eric Molale of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Comfort Maruping of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Kgosi Lotlamoreng II of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

It is safe to say the battle in this constituency that has been dominated by the ruling party for decades, will be between Lotlamoreng and Molale.

This constituency, which is home to Barolong, has a population of about 54,819 according to the 2011 census, but it is so shockingly bereft of a single business facility, constituents prefer to do their business like shopping in Mafikeng, South Africa.

Otherwise, they have a choice to travel many kilometres to Lobatse to conduct their banking needs.

Majority of Barolong, who have cross border relatives in the North West Province of South Africa, still do their shopping in Mafikeng. After more than four decades ruled by the BDP, the opposition UDC surprised many when it won the constituency in the October 24, 2014 general elections, where voters tallied at 13,540.

UDC’s Mathokgwane thrashed the BDP candidate, Kitso Mokaila by 6,712 to 6,101 votes. Lesego Gatogang of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) trailed behind by 717 votes. To explain the shock BDP loss, one resident, Dikano Mogale put it to a serious problem of water and electricity.

“This area has a serious problem of water and electricity. We sometimes stay for some days without water. Some of the villages like Sekhuthane are not connected to the national electricity grid,” said Mogale.

He said they have been battling with water shortage for  more than five years and the authorities are yet to resolve the issue.

A Goodhope Senior Secondary School teacher who cannot be named because of fear of victimisation said the school has been experiencing water shortage since it started admitting students in 2008.

She claimed that the school and the police station have been running without water and the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) has identified the problem to be pipe blockage due to lime. 

“We were told two years back that the problem is going to be fixed, but nothing so far has happened. Both the senior school and the police station are delivered water by water bowsers which are transported here,” she said.

The teacher also claimed that they have challenges of shortage of textbooks for subjects like Setswana. The school also lacks equipment needed for practical subjects and science starter packs.

“Other schools like Mariba and Molopo River Junior Secondary Schools complain about dilapidated buildings that need renovation.” The whole constituency has two police stations; one in Goodhope and another one at Ramatlabama.

The Goodhope police station has 103 staff including police officers and supporting staff. The police station has a shortage of transport as three traffic cars, two patrol vehicles and the three other vehicles have broken down.

Stock theft cases are very rife, according to police officers. But the station has no criminal investigation office because of limited office space, only receiving assistance from Ramatlabama. Goodhope alone as a village has a population of 6,362.

A nurse, who also cannot be named for protection, revealed that the challenge facing the health department in the area is shortage of ambulances and off-road vehicles because the majority of villages do not have tarred roads. 

“At Kgoro health post there is a three-roomed facility with no electricity. There is one nurse who has no accommodation. A nurse at Kgoro has to request for an ambulance from Pitsane. Tshidilamolo clinic also does not have an ambulance, water and doctor,” said the nurse.

At Mabule clinic, which has a maternity facility, there are three nurses and no doctor since 2012. The clinic does not have an ambulance. “The maternity facility also needs maintenance since the building is not in a good state. Sekhuthane clinic has similar problems like Kgoro,” said the nurse. 

Residents of Phitshane-Molopo, complain that they have long been promised developments such as a dam, police station, youth centre, brigade and a bridge at the border gate, but nothing has been delivered.

Goabaone Bafitlhelwang said their internal roads are poor especially in villages like Sekhutlane, Hebron and Mogothwane.

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