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Hanging ass. Minister returns, talks about constituency development

Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Sethomo Lelatisitswe returns to work next week after serving a month-long suspension for violating Covid-19 protocols.

His suspension came after he, or his nephew, as he put it, posted a photo of the family reunion, apparently exceeding the numbers set during the covid-19 era.

Although he dodged questions about it, SHARON MAHALA met with the deputy of Boteti Est to discuss developments in his region.

What are your main lessons from the parliamentary session which has just ended?

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My biggest takeaway from the last parliamentary session will be the laws that were passed.

I say this because most of the bills passed respond to the concerns of most Batswana who fear that they will not play any important role in the economy of this country.

This means that once the president officially signs them, Batswana will now play a bigger role in running the economy, especially with the inclusion bill. We will no longer have to worry about foreigners having the biggest slice of the pie.

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

What are the main comments you received during your interactions with your employees?

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

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You are well aware that my constituency was heavily dependent on the mining sector and because of the Covid-19 many mining projects had to be halted, which meant that many people were made redundant as the industry was hit hard, so unemployment skyrocketed in my field, especially among those who were contracted out.

There was a lot of pressure on me there. We have also seen an increase in the crime rate, failed marriages and cases of GBV.

I am under a lot of pressure, especially in rural areas where unemployment is high, now we have people asking for an increase in admissions in the Ipelegeng program but it is almost impossible because part of the budget has been diverted to fight against the pandemic.

What are some of your accomplishments or milestones as a returning MP?

One milestone that I am particularly proud of is the fact that mining companies in the region have accepted my call to be more engaging and visible to the local population.

You know that the Karowe mine was committed to building a local sports stadium.

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Without the contractor’s delays, it would be complete, but there is progress. Debswana has also responded to our calls to get involved in projects that improve the lives of residents.

What do you think are the concerns in your region?

There are a lot of concerns on the part of the riding, to be honest. for example, Letlhakane does not have a hospital.

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

We also need more primary schools in this region because the ones we have are overcrowded.

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

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The state of emergency ends this week. Do you still believe it was necessary? Did he achieve what he was intended for?

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

I believe that without the SOE we would have lost so many more lives in Botswana, it would have been tragic because, as I said, the SOE made it possible for the government to be able to prioritize Covid-19 while removing many obstacles that would have otherwise been a problem.

What occupies you during the parliamentary recess?

I am mainly engaged in consultative meetings and kgotla meetings.

We are preparing for the State of the Nation speech, so I need to be fully briefed on what urgently needs to be done in the region so that we can at least try to address some concerns.

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I have to be aware of all of this so that when the budget is allocated the powers that be will appreciate what is needed in the area I am leading.

You return to work after a one month suspension, I noted you never commented, would you say your suspension was fair?

I wouldn’t want to go into it. Most took place in public, so no comment.

What did you do during the month of absence?

I have been involved in a lot of work in the constituency, like I said, getting feedback from constituents on what they feel needs to be done,

Okay, apart from that, what priority areas do you think the next parliamentary session should focus on?

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Constitutional review! In my opinion, the next session should adequately address this issue, as many areas will be affected.

It won’t be an easy thing to do, but it must be done.

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

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