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SHEDS LIGHT: Lelatisitswe

Suspended Ass. Minister returns, speaks on constituency development

Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe, returns to work next week after serving a one-month suspension for violating Covid-19 protocols.

His suspension came after he, or his nephew as he put it, posted a picture of the family gathering, seemingly exceeding the set numbers during covid-19 times.

Although he evaded questions around this, SHARON MATHALA caught up with the Member of Parliament (MP) for Boteti East to discuss developments in his area.

What are your biggest takeaways from the just-ended parliament session?

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My biggest takeaway from the last parliament session will be the laws that have been passed.

I say so because most of the bills passed address concerns of most Batswana who are worried that they do not play any significant part in the economy of this country.

It means once the President officially signs them into law, Batswana will now be playing a bigger role in the running of the economy, especially with the inclusion bill. We will no longer have concerns about outsiders having the bigger slice of the pie.

The other thing, of course, would be Covid-19. We know that our budget as a country has been affected because of the pandemic but I am happy that major projects around the country have not been halted, like in my constituency – the water treatment plant in Mmatshumo – which is almost complete.

What are some of the key feedback notes you have received when interacting with your people?

Most of the concerns raised are those of the economic after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic nature.

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You would be aware that my constituency relied heavily on the mining sector and because of the Covid-19, many mining projects had to be cut off, which meant that many people were laid off as the industry was hard hit, so unemployment skyrocketed in my area, especially among those who were on subcontracts.

There has been a lot of pressure on me from that end. We have also recorded an increased crime rate, failed marriages, and GBV cases.

I am under a lot of pressure, especially in rural settlements where there is high unemployment, we now have people calling for an increased intake in the Ipelegeng programme but that is near impossible because part of the budget has been diverted to fighting the pandemic.

What are some of your achievements or milestones as the returning MP of the area?

One milestone I am particularly proud of is the fact that mining businesses in the area have accepted my call to be more engaging and visible with the locals.

You would be aware that the Karowe mine had committed to building a local sports stadium.

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If it weren’t for the delays from the contractor, it would be complete but there is progress. Debswana, too, has answered our pleas to be involved with projects that improve the lives of the locals.

What would you say are some of the concerns from your area?

There are many concerns from the constituency, to be honest. for instance, Letlhakane does not have a hospital.

It does not have proper internal roads and drainage systems but it is a mining area.

We also need more junior schools in this area because the ones we have are overpopulated.

The rentals, because of the mines, are very expensive and so we hope Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) will soon set up and build houses here to be able to mitigate the high rentals.

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The state of emergency comes to and end this week. Do you still believe it was necessary? Has it achieved what it was intended to?

I believe so, yes! Look, the main reason for having the state of emergency was to fight the pandemic. Covid-19 projects had to be a priority and the government has been able to address issues that arose, swiftly.

I believe if it were not for the SOE we would have lost so many more Batswana lives, it would have been tragic because like I say, the SOE allowed for government to be able to priorities Covid-19 while eliminating many hurdles that would have otherwise been a problem.

What keeps you busy during the parliament break?

I am mostly engaged with consultative meetings and kgotla meetings.

We are preparing for the State of the Nation Address, so I need to be fully briefed on what needs to be done urgently in the area so that we could be able to at least try and address some concerns.

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I need to be aware of all of these so that when the budget is allocated, the powers that be appreciate what is needed in the area I lead.

You resume work after a one-month suspension, I have noted you have never commented on it, would you say your suspension was fair?

I wouldn’t want to get into it. Most of it did play out in public so no comment.

What did you get up to during the month away?

I engaged in a lot of work in the constituency like I said, getting feedback from the constituents about what they feel needs to be done,

Ok, digressing from that, what areas of priority do you believe the next parliament session should focus on?

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Constitutional review! The next session in my view should adequately address this because a lot of areas will be affected.

It will not be an easy thing to do but it has to be done.

There will be a lot of changes with the review, which will impact a lot of people who were maybe used to doing things a certain way and so I honestly feel the next session should really discuss this.