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UDC leader must be popularly elected BCPYL

Chairperson of the Botswana Congress Party’s youth league, Tumiso Chillyboy Rakgare

The Chairperson of the Botswana Congress Party’s youth league, Tumiso Chillyboy Rakgare has broken ranks with the rest of opposition politicians and spoken highly about the country’s Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

In a candid interview this week with FRANCINAH BAAITSE at his residence in Gaborone, Rakgare revealed that Masisi is a clean man who would give opposition a serious contest ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Rakgare further revealed that as BCP engages the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over unity talks, the Presidents of the Coalition parties must contests for the leadership positions and be directly elected by the masses.

Rakgare wants BNF to come out clean and account for the saga surrounding the forensic report of Gomolemo Motswaledi, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leader who died in a car crush a few months before the last general elections. Below is how the interview was captured.

The BCP is readying to join opposition unity ahead of 2019 general elections. Tell us about it. Are you prepared for it?

I have not been mandated by the youth league to share my views on this matter. I have my personal views. However there is always a thin line between views of leaders on personal capacity and that of the position they hold.

There has to be some form of criterion between the coalition parties.  Most of the time coalitions do not work out because parties do not understand each other in terms of culture and structures. You talk of behaviour of the general membership of the BCP; how we relate among ourselves, how does the leadership operate; how are decisions taken! For instance BCP uses the “bottom up” policy whereby the leadership implements decisions made by the general membership. That has been a culture in our party. I would not want that to die. I would not want Dumelang to take decisions on behalf of the general BCP membership without prior consultation. I do not want him to act like the former BNF leader, Dr Kenneth Koma who would say, “I am BNF and BNF is me,”

So you do not support the coalition?

I want the cooperation and almost everybody in the BCP wants it, but there are certain outstanding issues that still need to be ironed out. You will recall that when we went for the BCP youth congress last year I was clear that the UDC must come out and tell us the truth.

What truth?

Remember the Motswaledi report? We need accountability. We submitted a proposal on the Memorandum of Understanding in regards to by-elections to the UDC. We have written to the UDC and it has not responded. Like I was saying to you these issues stands unresolved. We need accountability because we are a government in waiting. Another issue is about what happened in 2011. When the cooperation talks collapsed, Gomolemo Motswaledi, may his soul rest in peace, then representing BMD (Botswana Movement for Democracy) signed, Dumelang Saleshando representing BCP signed and Duma Boko representing BNF (Botswana National Front) also signed. They all agreed that the talks have collapsed and so it was not good when the BNF membership went around accusing Saleshando of betrayal and that he pulled out from the talks.

Saleshando is going back to the negotiation table with UDC over unity talks, what should we expect?

We are going into fresh negotiations and we are going to thoroughly debate the issue and the youth league has already started. Their thinking as well as mine is that in a progressive democracy there has to be a contest. There has to be primary elections in every constituency. The people should be allowed to select their favoured candidate.

So you are not in favour of constituency allocation as per the old umbrella model?

Personally I think constituency allocation is fine but I disagree where primary elections are prohibited. Remember general membership would not participate or have a direct say on the kind of cooperation model to be adopted, but they can take part in voting for their preferred representatives. People should be allowed to directly elect the President, a person who would lead the coalition government. The BDP is going to fight hard to retain power and we need somebody who is very strong to combat their efforts.

Among the four opposition leaders, Boko of BNF, Motlatsi Molapisi of Botswana People’s Party (BPP), Ndaba Gaolathe of BMD and Saleshando of BCP who would you want to lead the combined opposition to the 2019 general elections?

Personally I do not care who takes the party to the general elections. I do not think any elections would be as interesting as those of 2019. Let us put aside party affiliation and understand that this is about regime change. There are capable people who should be allowed the chance to contest and lead the coalition to victory. This project belongs to Batswana. Let us not worry much about individuals but rather about the structure. The Presidency is a very powerful position. The President controls almost all arms of government including the Judiciary, Parliament and even has powers to hang people to death.

Hahahahaa! (Laughing)

We need to have an agreement in place that whoever takes over the Presidency in 2019 would support constitution amendment because the Presidential powers have to be reduced. We need an independent Parliament, independent Judiciary and independent oversight bodies.

What do you think of the current Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi whom the Opposition would have to contend with ahead of the 2019 polls? Is he a potentially strong Presidential Candidate?

Masisi is a nice man. He is a bit cleaner in as far as corruption is involved. He has a very strong character. We need somebody who can match him. If we do not have somebody who is grounded like him, who relates well with the people, we will kiss government goodbye. Masisi connects well with the poor, the ordinary Motswana out there. That alone is a threat to the opposition; that is why we need a character that will match him.

Surely, the opposition is not going to be happy with this statement!

I do not care. This is the truth. This man would pose a serious threat to the opposition should the BDP elect him to lead it into the 2019 general elections. If we fail to oppose him with a strong opposition leader, then we will be in serious trouble.

Do you think Saleshando stands a chance in leading the cooperation?

BCP membership has shown great support for him. They demonstrated that he remains their trusted leader when they re-elected him the party President during the last congress even though he had not achieved all he had wanted to achieve during the 2014 general elections. Dumelang will always be my best ever MP (member of Parliament). As a young person in Parliament he represented me, spoke a lot on things that affect the youth. For tax to be exempted for first home owners, it was because of him. Some of the commodities we buy are excluded from VAT because Saleshando spoke for the people. He has done his best. The party membership believes in him, they trust his leadership skills. They see him as the next President of the country and he must accede to that. If he is to relegate himself to something else, then he would have wronged them. The people should be given a chance to vote him as the leader of the coalition. If many people believe that Boko should lead the coalition, then let the people decide and vote who they believe is the best.

Now about your political future, are you still interested in taking another chance in contesting for a Parliamentary seat in the next general elections?

I am not so sure because we are now talking coalition and possible constituency allocations. Mogoditshane could end up being allocated to another party other than mine. Besides I am very broke at the moment. Campaign is expensive. Politics do not have a thank you when you lose. You struggle on your own. I used family money for campaigns and when you lose nobody gives you back that money. When I was fired from my old job at Duma FM I cared less because I thought, when I win, I would have little money to feed my family and survive. But I lost and I have been sitting home for the past 2 years without a job. I have a wife, a son and extended family to support. Back home in Thamage they look up to me for financial support. I am the bread winner and now that I am in opposition politics it is close to impossible to get my proposals looked at by even the private sector. I have sent out business proposals, but none of them have been successful. I know I had good ideas, but I am being punished because I am an opposition politician.

Is it that bad?

Yes, truth has to be told. Some officers have told me that they cannot help me because “elders” are watching. I am struggling financially. I know some would say I am shaming my family, but my wife has been supporting me through all these difficult times. She even gives me fuel money so that I can attend party meetings.

You are the youth leader, why can’t the party finance official trips?

We are broke, BCP is broke and it always have been broke!

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When talking at the handing over ceremony, Chull-Joo Park, said they agreed with BRCS to give out e-learning equipment to better the training skills of students living with disabilities.

“With the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and job training skills, we will be able to help the students living with disabilities to do e-learning and to better their education and job training,” said Chull-Joo Park.

It was revealed that the South Korean Embassy approached BRCS with the intent to donate equipment and educational material that includes an embroidery machine, photo copier machine, tablets and interactive boards to be utilized by the trainees.

The industrial printer is a machine that works with embroidery machine to print designs for clothing and it will enable the learners to have more material available to them to facilitate learning.

Through this embroidery machine, students will be exposed to better technologies which ultimately improve the quality of materials they produce. It will also allow students to learn business skills and run profitable ventures.

Smart board gadgets will provide the students with an elevated learning process to be fostered by e-learning. The gadgets provide a more visual element to the learning process, which in turn improves learner mental retention.

Tlamelong Rehabilitation serves the marginalized and underserved less privileged persons living with disability in Botswana. The center offers boarding services, vocational training, social services, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for young people living disabilities aged 18-35 from across the country over a period of two (2) years per cohort which has a maximum intake capacity of 35. BRCS through International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have managed to create great working synergy with the South Korean Embassy in Pretoria based in South Africa to support or augment the National Society’s Rehabilitation Centre’s learning challenges.

For his part, BRSC Secretary General Kutlwano Mokokomani said they are delighted to convey their gratitude as BRSC to the South Korean Embassy for donation and they look forward to an enduring partnership for such worthy causes.

“South Korean Embassy’s great gesture will enable trainees to thrive, to fulfil their dreams to become a reality as this equipments will go a long way in creating great impact in the lives of trainees and their families. We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to the South Korean Embassy for their noble gesture of donating the E-learning equipments.”

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