The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has resorted to buying votes by promising pork ÔÇô barrel development funding in the final push to secure victory in the Sekoma by-election.
At least two cabinet Ministers: Dorcus Makgatho and Botlogile Tshireletso have confessed to a BDP plan to distribute developments through political patronage. Minister Slumber Tsogwane has also been named as part of the plan.
Pork barrel is a metaphor for the appropriation of government spending on projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes.
Minister of Health, Dorcus Makgatho took the low road during a political rally at the Ngwaketse West village, deploying pork barreling and politics of fear in a bid to sway voters towards the ruling party.
In a thinly veiled threat, the minister suggested that the village would not have any developments should they vote for the opposition.
The by-election for the ward which will be held on March 5 follows the death of Councillor Makalare Ngomme of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Speaking at a rally to launch BDP council candidate for the area Keboetsweng Lebotso Sebotso, Minister Makgatho warned residents that she would only address requests for developments in the area if they are made by a BDP member.
Makgatho, who explained to the residents that they were not voting the BDP candidate but the current government, said she would not address a problem at Mabutsane clinic if the person reporting such a problem is a member of opposition parties.
“I would only honour the call if it is from a BDP councilor not from the opposition. In fact that should happen across various government ministries. So you should be wise in the manner you are going to vote. The time has come for the ruling party and not the opposition with their empty promises,” said Malesu.
One resident requested the minister to ask government to build a hospital in their area. Malesu dangled the hope of a new hospital in the area saying government was ready to build such a hospital if the person making the request is a BDP member.
“I’m the Minister of Health. Vote for BDP if you want a hospital in your area. If you want us to sit at a table and have a conversation about the hospital I can arrange for transport to take you to Gaborone. But do you think I would do the same if you were from the opposition? How can I provide transport to my opponent? How can you have a hospital built in your area if you vote for the opposition?” Malesu asked rhetorically.
Malesu added that if the person making the request is a BDP member she would reschedule her pending assignments or meetings to accommodate the BDP member but would not extend such courtesy to a member of the opposition.
She said this is the time for the voters to give BDP a chance since the opposition’s Member of Parliament Shawn Nthaile has not brought any developments to their area. “If you are the government of the day, you should demonstrate that through service delivery and we have delivered on our promises,” said Malesu.
Speaking at the same rally, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso also dangled carrot before the residents saying they should vote the BDP Government because this would make it easier for their councilor to know what developments and services they need in their area since such issues fall under the portfolio of her Ministry.
“Our plan is to bring services and developments with the help of Lebotso. This man would not just go to Council to warm the seat like the area MP Nthaile. I have been working hand in hand with him, together with Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane who is present, will help him as the two Ministers who oversee councils,” she said.