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.
MOKOKO GUNS FOR GUMA
As an independent parliamentary candidate, he is quick to admit that he does not have the financial means to run a lavish campaign. However, Tshwenyego Mbise, 42, a resident of Themashanga village in the Tati East constituency believes that his knowledge of the constituency, its people and their needs coupled with his passion to serve, put him in a vantage position to win.
This is despite the fact that independent candidates in Botswana rarely win an election. He joined Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) in 1998 and unsuccessfully contested Old Naledi ward in Gaborone in 1999. At the time, BPP was part of the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM). “I would later leave active politics until the Councillor for Themashanga, Kudzani Tobokwani, a member of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) recruited me into the ruling party,’’ said Mbise in an interview. He became active again in 2009 as part of the party activists who campaigned for Moyo Guma, the current area Member of Parliament (MP).
“I had wanted to contest the general elections in 2014 but decided instead to support Sean Sebele in the primary elections against Guma. “I did not want to split Sebele’s votes because I wanted him to win the primaries,” said Mbesi who runs a construction company. Will he consider contesting the primary elections if they are called to replace Guma who has been recalled? “I have been campaigning for some time as an independent candidate in this constituency and the constituents are behind me.
They know me,” said Mbise who has not resigned from the BDP. “The problem of shortage of water in this constituency is an old one and needs to be tackled. Looking at the length of time this problem has been around, it is clear that nobody is pushing it,” he observed adding that there has been no political will to champion the development agenda of the constituency in general. His commitment to addressing the shortage of water is reflected in his election symbol which is formed by two standpipes standing together but facing opposite directions.
The aspirant finds it disturbing that there is no hospital or a 24-hour clinic in the constituency. One of the challenges that stood the test of time is shortage of land in the constituency which is part of the North East District. The North East District is home to farms owned by the Tati Company. “It is difficult in the North East District to own land be it for residential purposes or grazing,” noted the parliamentary aspirant whose chosen colour is maroon. “The Ntimbale dam is situated between farms. Access to it for activities such as fishing is impossible for the ordinary people. Only the rich owners can easily access it which in my view is unfair,” lamented Mbise.
The constituency is endowed with a lot of rivers. “If we had land, the rivers could be an important resource especially to the youth interested in farming. “Irrigation farming would grow in this area due to the many rivers we have,” he added. Mbise is also not happy with the inadequate road infrastructure in the constituency or the general pace of development. “Look at a village such as Matsiloje for instance. It is so close to Francistown but so neglected. There are no developments,” he observed.
Mbise believes that the Tati Nickel mine should not have closed. “The other problem here is the human-wildlife conflict. The Department of Wildlife is not doing their job and people are suffering because wild animals are destroying their crops. I intend to articulate these things in parliament,” said Mbise.
Lucas confident of victory
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate for Francistown South, Modiri Lucas, popularly called Jojo, is a confident man.
He fancies his chances to beat both Wynter Mmolotsi and Tiroyaone Ntsima of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) respectively in the October general elections.
BDP won the constituency back in 2009 with Mmolotsi as party candidate but he would later break away as part of disgruntled members that formed the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
The 39 year old entrepreneur is unfazed by the fact that BDP could only manage 3 289 votes in 2014 while the UDC, whose candidate then was Mmolotsi, garnered 5 261. A lot has since changed. Mmolotsi’s AP has decided to go it alone in the elections. “He has changed from one party to another and people can no longer trust him. People need somebody who is consistent and they can trust.
“Secondly, there is no AP in the constituency. I am confident that the BDP, not necessarily myself, will win the constituency with large numbers,” he stated.
Lucas has been an entrepreneur since his primary school days. “I was a photographer at school and also sold sweets at school,” revealed Jojo who stayed with his parents in old Somerset, which is known for poverty, alcoholism and crime. He went to Mokaleng Primary School and Moremogolo in Francistown and then proceeded to Francistown Secondary School before enrolling with the South African College of Auctioneers for a Diploma in Auctioneering.
“We were squatters here and life was hard so I had to sell sweets, take photos to compliment whatever my parents could raise,” noted the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) member who stays in Block 8.
He contested Ipopeng ward using the tagline mokoko wa ditlhabololo as an independent candidate in the 2014 general elections but lost. He used his own resources to buy and install tower lights at dimausu to curb crime. “There are people who cannot afford even a simple thing as replacing or repairing the door to their house due to poverty.
“When I discovered this need, I used my resources to help out because, without a door, you are exposed to criminals at night,” explained Lucas. He has pioritised jobs among the needs of the constituency. “Nobody is taking the government empowerment programmes to the constituents. I intend to do that by organising seminars and workshops for the relevant government departments to market those to the people,” added Lucas.
He has registered a company called A 100 Minds Limited. “This will bring a hundred young people together to run business related to farming, manufacturing and the production of different commodities for supply to government,” said the BDP diehard whose philosophy is that politics is about service to the people.
He is also worried that no clinic in the constituency operates for 24 hours. “There is a need to add a maternity wing to the Masego clinic in the constituency. Our internal roads need to be upgraded. I am also worried that, in almost the whole constituency, churches operate as squatters. This is despite the crucial role they play.
“They are not given the recognition and dignity they deserve by being allocated land,” Modiri said. As MP, Jojo will get government to resolve the problem of O Mang for the children who struggle to be recognised as citizens because one of the parents was not a Motswana.
“Government needs to solve this problem once and for all. Right now, I know some who will not vote because there is a problem with the renewal of their identity cards,” he lamented. His position is that, if government cannot open the Tati Nickel mine, it should at least turn it into a tourism park, which would revive the economy of the town. Francistown constituency also needs a Youth Centre equipped with WIFI which will also serve as a resource centre.
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