Life was much better for us under Khama-Xere Villagers
You can’t control people’s sentiments and thinking-VP Tsogwane
Extensively marketed as an initiative to promote and preserve Basarwa Culture, Xere Cultural festival ended on a high note for the revellers but left a bitter taste in the mouths of the poverty stricken residents of the host village of Xere in Boteti West District.
Not even the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane’s P6 million promise for developments in the settlement which is home to 402 people could console the hungry villagers who expressed a yearning for the previous Khama administration, which they said took better care of them than the current administration.
Although Xere forms part of Vice President Slumber Tsogwane’s Boteti West Constituency, the village which was established in 2002, following the forced removal and relocation of the Basarwa from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), is one of the poorest communities in the country.
Statistics provided by the Boteti District Council revealed that out of the total population that currently stands at 46 693, there are 2 567 permanent destitutes, 151 temporary destitutes, 2 480 needy students and 265 children needing assistance in the entire Boteti region.
While the village has evolved from makeshift traditional huts to smaller compact brick houses, there aren’t many developments to speak of, except a kgotla, Primary School, a health post and a mini Rural Administration Centre with three functioning offices.
Lamenting their sorry state of existence, the forgotten villagers called for the return of former President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who according to them, is the only President who ever cared for Basarwa’s wellbeing.
Speaking soon after the festival, which showcased Basarwa’s traditional dance and song, concerned resident, Mohithwa Bahurutshe said that since President Mokgweetsi Masisi assumed office, the state of poverty in Xere has intensified and many of his people are now destitute. “Life was much better for us under Khama because he visited us often to learn about our struggles and he proceeded to give us livestock to rear.”
“Re bolawa ke tlala,” (We are starving) he cried, revealing that the livestock had not survived the intense desert conditions, with only a few remaining.
Xere Village Chief, Molaodi Moipolai who had publicly endorsed the Cultural Festival, agreed with these sentiments. “Sale Tautona Khama a tsamaya, re latlhegetswe” which means “President Khama’s departure was a huge loss for us.”
Kgosi Moipolai affirmed claims that the current President has not once set foot on their land, despite Basarwa being the first inhabitants of Botswana. “During his tenure, President Khama visited Xere on three occasions to not only learn of our challenges, but to also mingle with the people.”
On the issue of the proposed state of the art cultural centre, Mopolai replied, “The kind of developments my village needs include better road infrastructure and improved water supply,” he said, stating that the last time they had adequate access to water was in 2010.
When reached for comment regarding the said P6 million budget for Xere state of the art cultural centre, Vice President Tsogwane advised this publication to engage the Boteti District Council, which was best placed to explain the proposed developments.
Tsogwane further rubbished claims that Masisi’s government has forsaken the people of Xere, stressing that there were multiple ongoing projects in Xere village, including the Cultural Festival, which was facilitated by the Xere Cultural Village Trust. “Understand that you can’t control people’s sentiments and their thinking, this government has a lot of initiatives to improve the livelihoods of all Batswana.” he said briefly.
BOTETI DICTSICT POVERTY STATISTICS
PERMANENT DESTITUTES 2 567
TEMPORARY DESTITUTES 151
NEEDY STUDENTS 2 480
CHILDREN NEEDING ASSISTANCE 264