As 2019 is a year of the country’s General Elections, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) aspiring parliamentary candidate for Kanye North Constituency, Otlaadisa Koosaletse advises Batswana to be serious with their votes and vote legislators who will represent them well.
Koosaletse will be contesting for the area with the Botswana Democratic Party candidate, Thapelo Letsholo. The Midweek Sun reporter, Onneile Setlalekgosi interviewed the UDC candidate.
Q. Good Day Rre Koosaletse. Kindly share your political background.
A. I started politics at a very young age around the1970’s. I became instrumental in forming Botswana National Front (BNF) youth chapter which was called Botswana Youth Federation in 1976-1977 in Lobatse.
My breakthrough in politics was in 1994, when there were problems within the BNF. I ran for position of area MP under the opposition ticket and won comfortably. When BNF split in 1998 I left with others to form Botswana Congress Party. In 2001 I was elected second president of the BCP, which I led for four years.
Q. Why did you decide to stand for Kanye North Constituency?
A. One of the reasons I stood for the constituency is that I have a general belief that the whole area has been neglected by the ruling party for a long period. The culture of side-lining developments has triggered me to stand for the constituency.
Q. You are contesting to be a legislator representing Kanye North. In your view what are the duties of an area MP and what should your constituents expect from your representation?
A. Duties of the area MP involve being able to live closer to the constituents so that you are able to address their problems. There is an issue of developments and distribution of services, it is sad that there’s special economic zones and there is none in the area I am representing.
Special economic zones can foster and nurture developments which can create jobs. I will ensure that the area gets a fair share budget of the developments. Kanye North has no access roads, Moshana, Lekgoloboto, Ntlhantlhe and other surrounding areas are not connected to the clinics or schools, and the role of the area MP is to fully represent constituents in all aspects.
Q. What are the national priority issues you would want to take to parliament?
A.Issue of corruption, if we do not fight corruption in this country, we will end up being like any other republic that were once rich but now poor. I believe in the levelling of the playing field in politics, I think it is time that Botswana joins other 14 SADC countries which have political party funding.
It is sad that Botswana with its economy and Zambia are the only two countries in SADC without political party funding and that deprives people of good representation from their MPs because of financial instability if it does not happen, it will end up in whoever being financially stable going to parliament even when they are not right candidates.
The other priority is agro-based, that is our produce from the field. I do not believe in food security, I believe in food self-sufficiency, Batswana should be able to produce their own food.
Q. There has been an outcry from the Kanye community that they need a hospital. Do you think Kanye needs a hospital and if so why?
A. Yes, Kanye needs a new hospital. The old hospital (Kanye Adventist Day Hospital) has no room for expansion and it cannot accommodate the growing Kanye population anymore.
Even if the government can pump money into the hospital, there is no way it can ever expand due to many buildings near it. My contention is to fight for a district hospital if it happens that I win during the upcoming elections.
Q. What is your view on corruption and institutions put in place to fight it?
A. Corruption has been rampant in the country. Agencies put in place to fight corruption are now after petty issues such as arresting people for similar vehicle number plates, than focusing on fighting bigger issues of corruption such as economic crime.
Q. There has been a general problem of youth unemployment, how are you prepared to address it?
A. Unemployment is a very serious issue, but our economy is a jobless economy. The way to fight youth unemployment is not a way to throw a carrot at the youths and say they can all do tenders. I do not think enough has been done to help the youth. Even the shopping complexes are not youth friendly as they are expensive to rent.
Things have to be changed first. The economy does not cater for the youth. There are many graduates and skilled people and Botswana is not fully known in exporting skilled labour to other countries. Youth are exploited in such a way that at times multitudes of the youths compete for one tender job, which only generates revenue for the government by buying the tenders. But I am going to address it seriously if I get to parliament.
Q. Education results have been declining throughout the country, how are you going to address the low pass rate in your area?
A. It is very serious that at this time we still have declining standards in Education results, by now the country should have learnt from the past mistakes which I believe will bring good results in Education.
I will ensure Education is taken seriously within the village, parents should be able to understand academic strength of children and make sure they offer them support where possible.
UDC fields Watshipi for Mmopane Lentsweletau constituency
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Parliamentary candidate in the Lentsweletau-Mmopane constituency Gilbert Watshipi is optimistic of a better future.
Watshipi will be contesting against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) representative Naniki Makwinja who beat the incumbent area MP Vincent Seretse in their party’s primary elections. He speaks to Tshepo Kehimile of The Midweek Sun.
MS: Good Afternoon Comrade Watshipi. Kindly take us through your political background.
GW:I have been involved in politics for a very long time, I was born into the family of Botswana National Front (BNF). I became active in politics in the year 2000. Fast forward to 2014, members of the BNF approached me just after the elections asking me to represent them at the 2019 General Elections. Back in 2015, I became BNF Treasurer for Lentsweletau-Mmopane and was involved in the Kweneng regional activities which include being a Treasurer for a fund raising team for the 50 years anniversary event which was a success.
MS: Why did you decide to stand for Lentsweletau-Mmopane constituency?
GW: As a person who always believed in liberating the oppressed, I felt it was time for me to play a role in regime change. The ruling party (BDP) has been in power for over 50 years and yet it has failed dismally to bring about desired change for the citizens. And I believe I have the charisma, knowledge and the energy to advocate for the people of this constituency as we route towards change.
MS: What do you think the constituents greatly need from your representation?
GW. To address issues that have not been addressed for many years, for instance, most MPs usually disappear immediately after the elections and forget about the constituency in this area, people who have businesses in Mmopane Block 1 tend to struggle when there are rains as the road is in a bad state. The lack of water and sewage systems in the area are some of the things that made me want to represent my people. My tours around the constituency have revealed problem areas that need to be addressed. Among them are: need for senior secondary school in the constituency; a need for adequate junior secondary schools; inadequate or lack of drugs in clinics. We also need a hospital and I will advocate for clean water suppy.
Another thing that the constituents will need is proper consultation which has not been there. It is important to engage and consult with constituents on issues of their interests, and that is how I have been able to pick these areas of need.
MS: What are the national priority issues you would want to take to parliament?
GW: Some programmes are not done well, for example, schemes such as ISPAAD are not well administered and that is a worrying factor. The funds are not being used properly hence the need to be considered at Parliament. As for the constituency funds in the area, nothing can be written home as there has been high misuse of these particular funds. We have seen instances where an individual farmer could be helped to costs of P35 000 only for them to make only P10 000 from their produce. This proves that the way things are done is not sustainable. We believe as constituents that we could be grouped in tens (10) where we would have P350 000 to use. This way we would be able to run sustainable agricultural projects. There would be good profits and we would be able to create employment. Even the constituency fund is not well administered and our input or views are not taken into consideration.
MS: What is your stance on corruption and institutions put in place to fight it?
GW: Our mandate at the UDC is to advocate for the independence of corruption agencies. Parliament should be given the power to instruct for forensic audits and set terms of reference where they deem fit without fear or favour. It should not be in the discretion of the president. Furthermore, we have realised that the roots of corruption are ideals of the society. If economic life is based on ownership of wealth, status, worship of money as means of power, unhealthy competition just to mention a few, then corruption cannot be avoided. All parastatals need forensic audits and all big wigs who have dealings with government need to be investigated. We at the UDC also believe that legislators must divorce themselves from doing business with government. Ombudsman, DCEC and other justice institution must enjoy total independence and be able to take anyone to task regardless of their position.
MS: How will you address the high unemployment rate?
GW: We have so many idling resources that need to be put to use. We should create commercial agricultural projects. Additionally, we now have a mine in Medie village and it should be managed well so that the constituents benefit from it.
MS: Education results have been declining in the country, how are you going to address the low pass rate in your area?
GW: For our pass rate to improve, these particular issues need to be addressed: Poor working conditions and salaries for teachers as they are doing an essential job hence need to be rewarded accordingly. Students continue to travel long distances which affects their performance as they are forced to attend classes fatigued and stressed. This could be addressed by building enough schools to cater for vast catchment areas. We need to revisit the Kedikilwe Commission report and reduce the teacher-student ratio as large numbers per teacher make meaningful learning impossible.
Infrastucture in schools must be made conducive for learning. As it is, we have dilapidated facilities and ablutions with no water in our schools. The environment must be attractive for learning. Enough classrooms must be built to avoid under the tree lessons where children are easily distracted.
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