The marathon fight involving the independent Member of Parliament for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule, and the Ministers of Education over the closure of Lobatse College of Education crystallized Thursday as it became apparent the frontÔÇôbenchers gave contradictory statements as to the stoppage of the institution, sparking public fears as to the credibility of responses from high offices.
Lobatse College, an institution which brought life and vibrancy to the oldest town in the country because of its ability to attract hordes of students and employees, was eventually closed last December with the area MP Modubule hurled from one post to another over the issue by the responsible ministers, the latest being Jacob Nkate’s successor Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
“Upon its closure in December 2009, the College premises would be jointly used by the Department of Out of School Education and Training and Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning serving the entire South district. The institutional houses will also be used to accommodate teachers in Lobatse and surrounding areas,” Venson-Moitoi responded to Modubule’s agitated question early this month.
However, things came to a head Thursday as the minister presented to parliament for adoption the budget proposal for 2010/11, elaborating the ministry’s envisaged development projects but scarcely mentioning any plans to resuscitate the college.
Responding to the budget, Modubule poured his heart out, arguing the minister’s decision was politically motivated.
“I really could not understand what is going on with regards to Lobatse College of Education and the town in general. Today I am told this and next time another. Recently, you told me not to worry so much as the college would be jointly used by DOSET and BOCODOL. However, nothing whatsoever in your speech suggests there is money proposed to cater for such project,” he charged.
“Worse still your predecessor Nkate told this House the government has decided to close down the college because there was over-production of junior secondary teachers. Today you tell us a different story that your ministry has a challenge with a number of children admitted to junior secondary, which exceeds the number of teachers. Such contradictions surely suggest you did not close the college for DOSET and BODOCOL neither did you for over-production of teachers,” he argued, adding there was something sinister, which led to the closure.
Serowe College of Education, he argued, is currently refurbished to the tune of P35 million while every time developments are destined for Lobatse there is always no money.
“This shows development projects and budgets proposals are distributed unevenly (and giving more consideration) to which political party the constituency belongs,” Modubule further argued.
Venson-Moitoi promised to investigate further and brief Modubule.
“I agree with you Honourable MP that there would not be progress at the college without prior developments. You will pardon me as I do not have a perfect answer to our queries now,” she conceded.
An opposition strong-hold for the past twenty six years, with Modubule winning the constituency twice under banner of the opposition Botswana National Front and currently as independent candidate, Lobatse is feared to become a ghost town with the recent closure of the college being the final straw.
Modubule is adamant the ruling Botswana Democratic is committed to rendering Lobatse impotent, punishing inhabitants for their political beliefs as outlined by President Khama, who during the recent campaigns ahead of the national elections, intimidated people to vote for his party or face development deficit.