Member of Parliament (MP) for Palapye, Boyce Sebetela, on Friday won the hearts of many MPs from across the political divide when he sweetened a motion that was expected to divide the house.
MPs heaped accolades on Sebetela saying his amendment to a volatile motion tabled by Gaborone West South MP, Robert Molefhabangwe, had saved parliament from a possible split and ethnic tensions.
Sebetela moved an amendment calling on Parliament to request the government to consider the establishment of industrial and commercial hubs as a strategy to address problems of shortage of land, power and water, which are a hindrance to economic development as prospective investors end up looking elsewhere due to cost and scarcity of raw materials and factors of production.
This was an improvement on an earlier motion by Molefhabangwe which called on government to develop Palapye as Botswana’s industrial capital.
Palapye has lately become a lightning rod of controversy, with some politicians and citizens complaining that the area was hoarding all developments because President Mogae and Vice President Ian Khama were from that area.
Gaborone North MP, Keletso Rakhudu, told parliament that he was initially against the motion “but with the wisdom shown” by Sebetela in coming up with the neutral amendment he now supported the motion.
“Initially I was against the motion because it was particular with Palapye becoming an industrial capital disregarding other prospective places.
“The simple mention of Palapye made me uncomfortable as other MPs were likely to want their areas of interest to be included too thus causing havoc in the House. But I am thankful that this House has intelligent MPs in the likes of Honorable Sebetela”, Rakhudu said.
Rakhudu further said that with Sebetela’s proposed industrial and commercial hubs, government can choose most eligible places.
He cited prospective places like Selebi-Phikwe town as suitable candidates. He said the town has been neglected for far too long and that it was time for the town to be resuscitated.
“The town is already at an advanced stage having been a progressive town and, as such, needs much less affordable resources to restructure”, he said.
He stressed that the thrust of the motion was to elude high costs, provide adequate land and power and that places like Selebi-Phikwe had all it takes.
MP for Mahalapye, Botlhogile Tshireletso, congratulated Sebetela adding she too was also initially hesitant to support the motion because she was worried that tribalism and politics would creep into the debate on the motion.
“The media and politicians say Palapye and the region surrounding it are saturated with developments simply because the president and his vice originate from there,” she said.
She said now that the motion had been detribalized and depoliticized, she was comfortable supporting it.
Francistown west MP, Tshelang Masisi, also joined the chorus of accolades but reminded the government about citizen empowerment when setting up such developments.
Lobatse MP, Nehemiah Modubule, also gave the Palapye legislator a pat on the back. Modubule complained that his constituency was lagging behind in developments and called for such proposed developments to be taken to Lobatse.
Tonota MP, Pono Moatlhodi, congratulated Sebetela, but supported the motion with some reservations saying such industries are infamous for bringing about pollution and exporting jobs. He cited the Walvis Bay in Namibia which he said suffered severe oil pollution.
Letlhakeng West MP, Filbert Nagafela, called on government to consider places like Sesung adding that Gaborone was encroaching on the Letlhakeng region.