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.
NEW AGE POLITICIAN
Botswana Democratic Party’s Parliamentary candidate for Kanye North Constituency Thapelo Letsholo advises his constituents to go for youthful competence, result-oriented representation and shun the outdated and usual political rhetoric.
If elected, his main objective will be to turn Kanye North into a progressive and result-oriented constituency. He will achieve this through unifying all levels of government with the goals of his people. Letsholo brings vast experience in business, retail management, communications and strategy having served corporate entities that have international reach.
He is confident that his professional expertise, particularly in strategy development, brand positioning and corporate reputation management, puts him in a prime position to be entrusted with effectively articulating and interrogating possible solutions to challenges faced by the constituency and the country at large.
Kanye North constituency needs new age representation that is in tune with the needs and aspirations of the current and future Kanye North voter. “That is exactly what I distinctively bring to the constituency. My intention is to consistently and continuously be available to all constituents, predominantly in person through such forums as dikgotla.
“However, across various interactions with the residents of Kanye North, we are in agreement that there is need for more communication platforms that will form additional contact points with the Member of Parliament (MP).“I therefore have an ambition to set up a call centre and develop a mobile application that all, especially the younger generation, can utilise to communicate with their MP and inform him of such areas that need his attention,” he says.
He will interrogate and positively confront all answers given by different ministries, departments and service providers for service lapses and challenges facing the constituency so that there can be increased urgency, vigour and adherence to timelines for service delivery and promised projects in the constituency. Some of these projects include the long standing water problem, Kgomokasitwa/Tshweneyagae Road, a sports stadium, youth unemployment and transforming the main hospital in Kanye into a more efficient and effective health care centre.
Confirming that a challenge exists by civil servants at Kgotla meetings can no longer be accepted as an appropriate and accepted response to the problem. “I am going to continuously and consistently agitate for clearly defined deliverables on how the specific challenges will be overcome as well as strict adherence to the associated timelines,” he says.
Q. You mention some challenges that have long existed. What will set you apart from MPs that came before you?
A. I believe in the philosophy of collective thinking. I don’t wish to present myself as a sole solution provider, and I don’t intend to mislead my constituents by offering and presenting myself as such.
Q. Women representation in political office has been a great challenge. What is your view on this?
A. The issue of women representation in politics in particular is very broad and has less to do with women’s capability but more to do with mistaken societal attitudes towards women’s ability to lead in general. This negative view should be tackled from the boardrooms through to politics. We need to emphasize equal opportunity and ensure gender balance across board. Throughout my tenure in business, I have fully appreciated the tremendous capability of women, to the extent that in most of the businesses I have been associated with, the majority of employees have been women and held leadership positions in the different divisions.
Q. What is your view on corruption and institutions put in place to fight it?
A. Corruption is a sign of a society whose moral values have been eroded over time. Therefore the sustainable solution is to take a long-term view to reverse the current decay.
At policy level, there is need to reconfigure the reporting structure of institutions charged with the responsibility of preventing corruption. There is opportunity for the institutions to report directly to Parliament, with the Heads of those institutions also appointed by a committee of Parliament. Their recruitment ought to be public and transparent, and their credentials, integrity and fitness to hold public office publicly interrogated. Their term of office could also be fixed to a specific period and non-renewable, such that their continued deployment is not at the pleasure of the appointing authority.
Q. There has been a general problem of youth unemployment, how are you prepared to address it?
A. Kanye North has a significant population of young people with big dreams, enormous ambitions and incredible aspirations. I have a real interest in working collaboratively with the youth, through continuous engagement with them and other stakeholders, to make the dreams of our young people a reality.
Moreover, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has committed to enable thousands of jobs mainly targeted at the youth, in the arts, creative and entertainment sector. To bring this to life, we have a strong ambition to work with the private sector to create Botswana’s first Television Production Incubation Centre in Kanye to give our local talent the opportunity to produce content initially for Botswana Television but ultimately for international consumption.
The fully equipped Incubation Centre will provide the necessary equipment, guidance and execution of various concepts proposed by creatives. This concept has not only already been developed for Botswana, but has also already tested in various other countries such as Nigeria and Kenya, resulting in the creation of jobs for the youth
Q. Given your acknowledgement of the magnitude of youth unemployment, as a successful businessman what have you done to alleviate the problem?
A. I am a passionate entrepreneur and a business leader. The companies that I have established permanently employ over 27 young people, mostly below the age of 30. My commitment to enabling and facilitating the development of our exciting and emerging talent is relentless.
Q. Noting that entrepreneurship is an alternative to solving youth unemployment, how do you intend to support those in this pursuit?
A. Given the limited opportunities in Botswana as a relatively small population but abundance of talent and skills, there is need to take a new approach towards starting and growing businesses. There is tremendous wisdom in the adage “moroto wa esi ga o ele” and that “noka e tlatswa ke melatswana”. The youth should embrace merging of different skills and talents as opposed to working in silos in turning gaps identified in the economy into viable business opportunities.
There is greater value in five individuals coming together and setting up a business and reaching out to a client as a service provider, as opposed to five individuals approaching the same client and competing amongst themselves.
Q. Education results have been declining throughout the country, how are you going to address the low pass rates?
A. Rather than teach children so that they can pass exams, the school system should be enabling learners to collaborate with each other, identify their strengths and setting them up for lifelong learning.
This approach will motivate and inspire learners to take ownership of their own learning in a motivated manner and consequently reduce apathy in their studies. In realization of the above, the BDP has also committed to an overhaul and modernization of the school curriculum, to enable us to respond to the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It has further committed to the establishment of a skills fund aimed at retooling our graduates for the current job market.
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.