As the clock ticks away towards the 2014 general election, Bobonong constituency will be among constituencies that will draw attention of political pundits. The race will pit incumbent Member of Parliament Shaw Kgathi against Botswana Congress Party [BCP] publicity secretary Taolo Lucas for the third time in a row.
In the last two elections, Kgathi, who is now acting minister of presidential affairs and public administration, came out on tops. In 2009 many political analysts wrote Kgathi’s political obituary as Lucas had made inroads into the BDP dominated constituency. The outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in the area and cattle rustling along the Zimbabwe border made Babirwa lose hope on the current government. BCP took advantage of the situation but at the end Lucas lost to Kgathi by 5,059 to 5899, a huge margin of 840 votes.
Since 2009 a lot has happened in the Bobirwa area which might influence the outcome of the 2014 election. In the last population census, Bobonong and its localities recorded a population growth of 21 020 while the whole of Bobirwa district recorded 66 964.
Bobonong is one of the most affected districts when it comes to HIV/AIDS scourge due to its proximity to the mining town of Selebi Phikwe and the farms surrounding the area that have high prevalence rate. According to preliminary results of the 2013 Botswana AIDS Impact survey, HIV/AIDS in the constituency was at 16.7 percent with the most affected being people between the ages of 31-49 at 43.9 percent.
Most of the people within the Bobirwa constituency are livestock farmers and depend on it for survival. The constituency is also surrounded by farms, which are a source of employment for most of the locals. The constant outbreak of FMD in the area and lack of a market for their cattle is of great concern to farmers. With Botswana’s unemployment rate at 17.8 percent most of the youth in the area like most parts of the country, depend on government projects like Ipelegeng and youth empowerment schemes.
Bobirwa chieftaincy row
In 2012 government instituted a commission of inquiry on the Babirwa chieftainship row which pitted the current chief Mmirwa Malema, Adam Masilo of Sekoba and one Onkemetse Serumola who all claimed to be the rightful heirs to the throne.While morafe waited for the report, the minister of local government informed them that it will not be made public and Kgosi Malema will continue as the chief. This has infuriated Babirwa and some might want to punish the government for not taking their concerns seriously.
Last year, Bobonong sub district was allocated P250 million for bitumisation of internal roads in the village and the tender was awarded to ZAC construction. The tarring of the 22 kilometre road stretches of access roads has given the village the facelift it needed most.
In 2012 the ministry of energy and water resources constructed the 90 000 000 cubic metres Thune Dam near Molalatau village. The construction created jobs for locals.
Shaw Kgathi-current MP
His position as cabinet minister has worked well for him and now acting in the office of the president, Kgathi might use the opportunity to push poverty eradication projects in his constituency. A former teacher, Kgathi is the first minister of youth, sports and culture. He is also the former director of sports and recreation.
Lucas is a social work lecturer at the University of Botswana and the BCP publicity secretary. His position in the party, also regarded as one of the fastest growing opposition parties in the country, might also do a trick or two. He is regarded as a grassroots politician who interacts well with people of different generations and social standings.