SEROWE: Constituents of the Bangwato capital are complaining that their loyalty to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) over the years has not borne any fruits, as their village lacks development and unemployment crisis remains high.
The region is divided into three constituencies; Serowe North, Serowe South and Serowe West. Since the nation’s independence, the BDP has dominated the region by landslide victories.
Residents of Serowe and settlements in the periphery complain that the ruling party has, nonetheless ignored them for decades despite the support it enjoys.
They also complain that Serowe was side-lined when developments are considered while the village is failing to attract investors that could open up employment opportunities.
Lack of industries and sustainable jobs have resulted in constituents of one of the most populous villages in the country solely relying on a few retail shops for employment.
The other common source of employment in the areas is the menial labour-intensive Ipelegeng programme and Namola-Leuba (drought relief programme), residents revealed.
Profits for street vendors are also insufficient due to lack of buying power and limited activities that could generate jobs in the region.
Gomolemo Lesogo of Moiyabana in the Serowe South constituency said at her home village the only source of employment is Ipelegeng that lasts a month. Lesogo has since relocated to Serowe for opportunities, but she noted nothing had changed in her job hunt.
Lesogo had attended the recent BDP launch of Serowe West parliamentary candidate Moemedi Dijeng where she had gone to sell her sweets and airtime as a vendor.
“I was hoping I would find a job when I moved to Serowe. I have moved around but there is nothing in the market. I have resorted to selling small items to augment my partner’s salary. He works for a security company,” she said.
“I am hoping I would make a little profit through these political rallies but after these it’s back to the usual struggle. It is time we changed the government and try other people. Maybe our lives could also change.”
Katholo Kelathege of Tshikinyega ward also complained of high unemployment. He decried abuse of employees by Chinese shops that he said hired and fired at will due to high numbers of desperate unemployed youth in the village looking for jobs.
Kelathege cannot access government initiatives, as he has no land, hence he always fails to get help from government agencies.
“The youth of Serowe are wasted sitting at the labour office from January to December. There is no employment at all in Serowe. It is either Ipelegeng or Chinese shops. You can imagine when the better employers after civil service are Spar and Choppies,” he said.
Masego Machona of Sesoma ward, a trader at the village bus rank, said the roads around the village are dilapidated and the bus rank itself was worn out and had turned unattractive. She highlighted a recurring shortage of water at the bus rank and its ablutions.
“Developments are in Palapye, that is where we see them. Serowe has turned into a museum. The only thing we have in this village is Sekgoma (Memorial) Hospital although we still experience shortages of medical supplies. Otherwise everything around the village is worn-out.”
She added that developments such as the stadium are not taken care of and sooner or later they would be closed and discarded.
An elderly farmer, Maikutlo Radichaba of Serowe South constituency, bemoaned shortage of water that he blamed for the community’s loss of interest in agriculture that has been the pride of the people in the region.
He said their farming efforts were curtailed by insufficient water supplies and the devastating high temperatures and droughts.
Radichaba is of the view that government is dragging its feet in assisting farmers with implementation of sustainable farming practices that could help them become resilient to weather conditions.
He said lands are deserted around the region as farmers lose interest and return to the village.
“We have naturally survived by agriculture in this region. Unfortunately we relied on dry farming that bears no fruits in the current droughts and weather conditions.”
“Government must aid farmers, and impart new skills and practices so that we learn to withstand the droughts and continue to produce food. It is long overdue,” Radichaba said.
He believed his compatriots are still keen on agriculture and appropriate aid from the government could revive interest and farmers could retrace to producing food and not worrying about formal employment.