Maun, one of the fastest growing towns in Botswana and the country’s tourism capital, will be one of the strategic constituencies that political parties would want to control both in the council and at parliament after October general election.
In the past three years the tourist town has experienced a construction boom especially in real estate and commercial infrastructure. This was accelerated by the opening of the Boseto mine near Toteng village. The population of Maun according to Botswana population and housing census of 2011 is 60 263.
Surprisingly though it is a tourism town, Maun has one of the lowest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country. According to AIDS impact survey 2013 Ngamiland South and North AIDS prevalence dropped from 19.8 percent and 16.5 percent in 2008 to 13.9 and 12.6 percent respectively in 2013.
Tourism is the backbone of Maun and one of the highest contributors in Botswana’s gross domestic product [GDP].Due to its geographical position, Maun is also the headquarters to many safaris and numerous air charter operations that run trips into the Okavango Delta. The administrative capital of North West District had the highest aircraft movement in the third quarter of 2013, with 15 304 movements which made up 61.5 percent of all the movements in the quarter.
According to Statistics Botswana, value added by trade, hotels and restaurants to the GDP, in the third quarter of 2013 was P4, 703.40 compared to P4, 565.60 in the second quarter of the same year. The gross value of the same sector which Maun is dominant in also contributed a gross value added to GDP of 14.5 percent compared to 13.9 percent in the second quarter. This shows that the two constituencies will play a pivotal role in determining who controls the second contributor to the country’s economy after mining.
There have been concerns that locals are just spectators in the tourism sector and it will be seen how political parties address the issue in Maun. The burning issue will be Maun Educational Park which the village leadership is worried that government wants to take it away from them.
Though still at its infancy, mining exploration in the North West District has started earnestly and there are indications that the area is rich in copper ore.
The opening of Discovery Metals Limited (DML)’s BOSETO mine has triggered development in Maun with the expansion of commercial developments and infrastructure, industrial sites, office and multi residential being developed.
The influx of people in the district might determine the political leadership in the tourism town.
Though the town is relatively doing well especially in tourism sector, locals are mostly left out with most of them working in tourism establishments like tourism and as tour guides. The only activity they are actively involved in is fishing and farming.
One of the burning issues in the district is the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) which has left most farmers in the area poor. This led to some Baherero wanting to relocate to their ancestral country of Namibia citing poverty brought about by FMD.
Most farmers in the constituency have expressed anger at government for failing to address the issue and might play a pivotal role in October 2014.
The constituency has been in the hands of the ruling party for a long time until in 2010 when Kgosi Tawana Moremi defected to Botswana Democratic Party [BDP] offspring, Botswana Movement for Democracy [BMD] leaving the latter with only Maun East under Frank Ramsden.
The political dynamics in the constituency have changed and Botswana Congress Party [BCP] has made inroads in the area.
In Maun East the BDP is facing a resistance from within as incumbent MP Ramsden has decried irregularities in the party’s primaries when he lost to his cousin Konstantinos Markus.
Osimile Fish who will be representing Umbrella for Democratic Change [UDC] in Maun East said that they are ready to wrestle the constituency from BDP which he said has failed dismally.
One of the challenges that he said are faced by the Maun community is the FMD issue which has rendered the people in the area very poor. Regarding his campaign, Fish said that as UDC they are doing very well but constrained by limited resources because the area is vast.BDP candidate, Markus agrees that FMD remains the main challenge in their area as people have nowhere to sell their cattle. He said that if voted in October 2014 he will ensure that government policies are implemented in his constituency in order to empower the locals.
Maun West BDP parliamentary hopeful, Keaoboka Mbulawa said that he is confident of winning back the constituency to the ruling party, “the chief has failed in his mandate of delivering development to the people of Maun.’’Mbulawa said that Maun people especially the youth need to be taught the importance of tourism as most of them are more into farming which has been the backbone of the district especially cattle rearing.
Botswana Congress Party [BCP] parliamentary candidate for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile said that challenges faced by Maun constituents can be viewed in six faces that is, Agriculture which the government through its policies is deliberately trying to kill in the area in order to pave way for tourism. Education is another area that Kekgonegile said that is a worry in Maun East as for the past three years, schools in the area have been least performing in national examinations. High unemployment rate among the youth is also of great concern to the former unionist. Regarding his campaign, Kekgonegile said that he is doing very well together with his campaign team. Efforts to speak to Maun West MP Tawana were futile at the time of going to press.