Does the fate of the civil servants who were fired in the aftermath of the two-month long civil service strike lie in the hands of independent legislator Samson Moyo Guma?
As for now, it would seem so.
At a glittering ceremony attended by at least 10 000 people marking the opening of various infrastructural developments by President Ian Khama at Tati Siding on Friday, the Tati East MP made an impassioned plea to the president to forgive the fired workers and reinstate them.
In response to Guma’s pleas and without flinching, Khama said he would only pardon them (the fired civil servants) on condition that the legislator returned to his old political home ÔÇô the Botswana Democratic Party.
“Before I forgive the workers, I will have to start with you,” was the president’s apt answer.
Khama’s response affirmed earlier reports that the president wanted Guma back in his wounded party following the BDP split that led to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy.
It remains to be seen whether or not Guma will heed the president’s courting and return to the ruling party. The legislator has gone on record saying that when he joined politics, it had always been his intention to serve 10 years adding that politics is eating into his time for business and family affairs and, as such, would not be contesting the 2014 general election.
Khama kicked off his speech by joking that he had dedicated 11/11/11 (11th November 2011) for his wedding but has been unable to fulfil his dream because Guma had distracted his itinerary with the official opening of the infrastructural projects which cost the government a whooping P120 million.
Responding to an address by Dr Leslie Nthoi who launched the website and explained that Tati East was inhabited by people of differing tribes who lived together harmoniously, Khama said it was pleasing that the people in the constituency had managed to live peacefully together despite their ethnic and tribal differences.
To that extent, he jokingly said they had elected a legislator from Bulawayo as their parliamentary representative, obviously referring to Guma who is a Motswana of Ndebele extraction.
However, the president implored Nthoi to go to Mochudi and lecture unity to Kgosi Kgafela who, of late, has had running battles with government and its ministers including challenging the republican constitution which he has labeled a ‘fraud’.
“There is nobody who is going to divide us as long as I am president,” said Khama before delving into his business of the day ÔÇô officially opening the P120 million Tati Siding Infrastructure Projects.
He said the commissioning of the projects was a clear demonstration of his government’s commitment to developing rural areas and improving the lives of Batswana.
The president said the P120 million investment was a clear indication of government’s commitment to diversifying potential economic localities in addition to urban centres.
He added that Tati Siding was an ideal place to do business from due to its proximity to Francistown, as well as its lying along the transit route to countries in the north that Botswana trade with.
Khama said government was concerned by continuous acts of vandalism of public properties, adding that the projects were an investment and should as such be protected.
On another note the president said government was concerned with contractors who defaulted in executing their contracts and that a decision had been taken to discipline the contractors based on the provisions of the PPADB Act and Regulations.
He observed that the commissioning of the projects coincided with the North East District Market Day which is meant to facilitate the promotion and sale of local produce to ensure the upliftment of livelihoods that was consistent with government’s economic diversification drive and poverty eradication programmes.
Guma implored government to equitably distribute developments, adding that while his constituency was lucky to get the projects, he was concerned that some other places had been unlucky in that respect.
He warned that such developments brought with them other challenges like unemployment as people started migrating into Tati Siding. He said other challenges included increasing crime rates and diseases.
North East District Council chairman City Kealotswe also said the district was blessed in that it had different tribes which lived together peacefully.
He applauded government for eradicating the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Zone Six and urged government to come up with strategies that would mitigate the impact of the outbreak as their livelihood was negatively impacted by the killing and selling of their cattle.
He slammed contractors who did not execute their projects as awarded, saying they should be punished because they denied the nation the intended benefits while lining up their pockets with public funds.
The ceremony was the biggest that the district has ever witnessed with multitudes of people trucked from the constituency’s 15 villages to attend the ceremony.
The event was also spiced with the presence of South African musician Sechaba and Botswana’s Magebula while Tati River Lodge was engaged for catering services.