The immediate past deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Pono Moatlhodi says he has unfinished business with politics. In a candid telephonic interview with Weekend Post, the former Tonota legislator spoke at length about his political career and how he intends to deliver victory for Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Though most politicians of his age are considering retirement from politics, Moatlhodi at the age of 65 still has zeal and ardour to try it out for a second time after he lost to his arch rival, Thapelo Olopeng in the last general elections.
“I still have some pending projects in the constituency that I would like to complete. There is still acute shortage of water at Shashe Mooke though the village is located 7km from Shashe dam. Tonota as a peri-urban area needs infrastructural development including a primary hospital and streets lights,” he stated.
Moatlhodi maintained that he was proud of the developments he brought to the constituency since he was elected area MP in 1999. He said that Tonota subordinate district council, internal roads in the village and the sewerage system are amongst the developments he strongly advocated for at Parliament.
He also told this publication that he has already started the campaign for the next general elections. Moatlhodi declined to comment about his relations with his successor, Olopeng.
Any chances of rejoining BDP?
Moatlhodi said as long as he lives, he will never rejoin the BDP. “When Mpho Balopi was still the party’s Secretary General, he boldly told me and Moeng Pheto that we were a bunch of useless people. His distasteful words are still etched in my heart,” he added.
Moatlhodi served as a BDP councillor for 15 years in Francistown and as an MP for 15 years having joined the party in 1975. He accused BDP of lacking discipline explaining that the party secretariat decided to remain silent when Olopeng ferried people from Gaborone in order to win the party primaries.
Impression about opposition politics
‘Triple P’ as he is affectionately called says at UDC he feels at home since he has absolute freedom of speech. He said as a backbencher during his tenure as ruling party MP, he was intimidated and threatened by party leadership.
“At BDP I was unable to freely advocate for my constituents and Batswana at large because I was often accused of towing the party line. I was even afraid of debating many issues in Parliament because I did not want to be victimised.
Moatlhodi reiterated that he will do whatever it takes to ensure that UDC wins the 2019 general elections. He also mentioned that he will not be seeking any party position in the upcoming BNF elective congress which will be held in Francistown in six months time.
Fallen BDP heavyweights joining UDC
Political scientist, Dr. Kaelo Molefhe told this publication that opposition needs people like Moatlhodi since they have vast of experience in governance. Of recent, longest serving BDP members including Margret Nasha, Vistor Maruti and Moeng Pheto all joined opposition parties.
“Politics is like football. When a team from lower division is promoted to premier league, it will need experienced players for it to avoid early relegation. UDC leaders are inexperienced about issues of governance and needs the likes of Moatlhodi to win state power but it will not be a case of replacing BDP by BDP” he remarked.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.