Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Marginalised tribes mobilising against government

A toxic brew of dissatisfaction and suspicion against government’s apparent bias in the distribution of the national development budget is pushing marginalised tribes to mobilise around competition for scarce resources.

Prominent Kalanga leaders, among them former Permanent Secretaries, former ambassadors, former Chief Justice and leading businessmen are up in arms complaining that the national budget expenditure is skewed against the North East District.

Former Chief Justice Julius Nganunu, Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Botswana Meat Commission Chief Executive Officer Dr Martin Mannathoko, Former Permanent secretary Gobe Matenge, former ambassador and Lazare Kaplan Botswana Managing Director Alfred Dube, former ambassador and one of Botswana’s most successful entrepreneurs, Samuel Mpuchane, prominent lawyers and ex-Motor Vehicle Chairman, Tendekani Malebeswa, Botswana ‘s first qualified accountant, Lawrence Maika are part of a group that has petitioned government, complaining of a deliberate bias against the North East District in the expenditure distribution of Botswana’s national budget.

Ngamiland District tribesmen are also mobilising against what they believe is discrimination against them in the way the country’s budget allocations are distributed.

Former Permanent Secretary, Gobe Matenge, spokesperson for the North East District petitioners that recently wrote to government complaining of “economic suffering”, confirmed that they have received a response from Minister of Works Transport and Communications, Nonofho Molefhi, on Thursday.

“Yes, I can confirm that the Minister has responded to our letter. I just received the letter this morning. I’m still waiting for others so that we can peruse it together and decide whether we are satisfied with the response or not,” said Matenge.

He said they would map the way forward after meeting other members of the delegation should they feel that the Minister has not addressed the issues they had raised.

“Whether we are satisfied or not is another matter. For now I cannot discuss the contents of the letter in details because we are not yet done with the Minister,” said Matenge.

In the letter, which was addressed to Molefhi, the petitioners dismissed government recession excuse. “The government now pleads poverty as pretext. We are told there is recession, yet new projects are being undertaken elsewhere in the country. What wrong have we the people of North East District done to have such punishment meted out on them,” they charge.

Although the letter addresses the specific issue of roads, the petitioners say they want the government to know that there is a general “complaint that the district has been deliberately denied development.” They complained that their capital, Masunga, is not connected to most of the villages in the district.

“Even sub-district headquarters elsewhere in the country have good road connections.” The petitioners say “this inequitable situation of Masunga is not only throttling development but it is also a glaring violation of espoused national principles.”

This comes at a time when Ngamiland District tribesmen are mobilising against what they call economic suffering.

Sunday Standard has turned up information that the Ngamiland community recently convened a kgotla meeting where they agreed to send a delegation to President Ian Khama to raise their concern of how livestock disease outbreaks and their aftermaths in the area are being handled.

The leader of the delegation, Keloitsang Ledimo, confirmed that plans were at an advanced stage to have an audience with the President. Ledimo, however, declined to discuss the issue further and referred this publication to Hainaveld Farmers Association Chairman Phillip Wright.

“I believe it would be unfair for us to discuss the matter before we present it to the President. Maybe after we have met the President that is when we can share the issue with the media,” said Ledimo.

While he also confirmed the existence of the delegation that intends to meet President Khama, Wright also referred further inquiries to Ledimo.

“He is the leader of the delegation and he is better placed to share with you the latest developments or the status of their preparations because he is the one leading the delegation,” said Wright.

A source who attended the Kgotla meeting and saw the report said it outlined challenges faced by communities in Ngami District, among them loss of beef market due to the recurrence of animal diseases, loss of livestock due to drought, increasing debt problems for the local people and inconsistency of cattle prices at the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).

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