Monday, January 17, 2022

‘Voters will decide my fate’-Skelemani

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Phandu Skelemani is reportedly skating on thin ice in his Francistown East constituency as he is accused of abdicating the constituency in favour of ministerial duties.

Former Francistown mayor and Satellite South Councillor Buti Billy who is challenging the incumbent is said to have made strong inroads with some constituents already writing Skelemani’s political obituary.

BDP sources in the constituency revealed that Billy’s campaign is centred on Skelemani’s continued absence and lack of visibility in the constituency.

As a senior cabinet minister holding the foreign affairs and international cooperation portfolio, Skelemani is hardly present in the constituency as he is most of the time holed up in Gaborone or travelling outside the country.

His constituents are allegedly not pleased with his absenteeism and are reportedly fed up with Skelemani who is quick on commenting on issues concerning other countries than saying anything about the plight of his unemployed constituents.

This has not gone down well with the residents of Francistown East who believe Skelemani should address their myriad problems that range from lack of developments, unemployment among the youth to poverty and HIV-AIDS.

Francistown East is home to some of the poorest locations in the city, among them Satellite, Coloured and Area W.

Youth and elders alike view Skelemani as an outsider who hardly visits their constituency to address their issues of concern.

Michael Bontsi, a resident of Colored location in the Francistown East constituency told Sunday Standard in an interview that Skelemani is failing his constituency especially the youth.

“We only see Skelemani in the constituency when elections are near. He rarely addresses kgotla meetings to hear our problems. We do not want Skelemani because he does not care about us at all. We only see him in the newspapers and BTV talking about international issues,” he said.

Another youth, Odirile Chaba who stays in Selepa location also expressed his displeasure at Skelemani saying that he is not doing enough for the Francistown East constituency.

“I think he should just step down as a Member of Parliament because he is not doing anything for the constituency. We hardly see him in the constituency unless when elections are near,” he said.

“We are tired with cabinet ministers. We want an MP who is not in cabinet and who will focus on us for a change. We want MPs who will address our bread and butter issues,” said one of the constituents who preferred not to be named.

Minister Skelemani has however defended himself and rubbishes the allegations levelled against him.

“Since my tenure as the area member of parliament I have held Kgotla meetings in my constituency and the residents hardly attend the meetings. Even the councilor for Satellite South, Buti Billy hardly attends my meetings to tell me about the problems of the constituents,” he said in an interview with the SundayStandard.

He said that as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, he is sometimes held up as he has to travel world wide to seek investment opportunities to benefit the people of Botswana including the residents of Francistown South Constituency. Asked if he is confident of winning the primary elections, Skelemani said that the voters will decide his fate.

“I cannot decide on behalf of the people. They will decide during the elections,” he said

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