MAYOR NKAIGWA ON A ROLL
Haskins Nkaigwa is no ordinary politician. He has risen through the ranks from a student leader at the University of Botswana the Mayor of Gaborone.
In an interview with MMIKA SOLOMON, he pours out his heart.
Q. Hello! Sir, how are you?
I am good. I can’t complain.
Q. When did His Worship, the Mayor join politics?
I joined politics in 1997. By then I was a student at the University of Botswana.
I even became the Chairman of GS26.
Q. What was your interest in politics?
I grew up in a family of politicians. My parents were members of Botswana People’s Party (BPP).
My uncle Martin Chakalisa also influenced me to join politics, although he was a member of Botswana People’s Party.
My journey into politics started at with a short stint with the Botswana National Front (BNF).
Q. Then how did you end up at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)?
I was recruited by a friend to join BDP.
That friend is now a senior police officer at Interpol.
Q. Take us through your life in politics…
I was born a leader.
I have always been on top throughout my life both as a politician and as a corporate leader.
In politics when I joined the BDP at UB I was appointed the chairman of GS26, I later became the Gaborone Central branch Vice-Chairman, when Gomolemo Motswaledi was the Chairman.
I was also the leader of Botswana Democratic Party Youth league.
In 2009, I was elected a councillor and immediately I was made the Deputy Mayor and later the City Mayor.
All these achievements were done through hard work and merit.
Q. Interesting, indeed.
If my memory serves me well, you became the Mayor because you defected to the BDP offspring-Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and a motion of no confidence was passed on the BDP leadership. Right?
Right. I had left the BDP because the culture there had changed.
BDP was no longer the BDP that I had joined.
At the time the opposition councillors passed a motion of no confidence on the BDP.
The motion went through.
The council elected me as the Mayor.
As they say the rest is history, besides I am more intelligent than my predecessor.
I used to advise her, but she would not take my advice.
Q. You sound too ambitious, with arrogant confidence. What aspirations do you have in terms of politics?
I am inspired by the Late Reverend Martin Luther King Junior in whatever I do as regards to politics.
Yes, I am confident because I have what it takes to lead in any capacity. I am even ready to lead this country as a president.
The BDP knows very well my capabilities in terms of the leadership skills I possess.
Most of them admire my skills, and they have come to tell me how they admire my leadership skills.
Q. You must be a genius, Haskins.
I am a first class leader my brother.
Here at the City Council, the Mayor’ speech is written by myself.
I lay the road map of the City Council.
I don’t read speeches prepared for me by council employees.
What I read at full council meetings are a true reflection of my thoughts.
I am not like other Mayors or Council Chairpersons across the country, whose views are those of the council support staff.
Q. But surely you must be having limitations in executing your road map.
Or the genius in you makes sure everything you want goes through?
Ha! Ha! Ha! Nice one. City Mayor is the most frustrated person in the municipality.
There are a lot of bottle necks.
We report to the Ministry of Local government; we get money from the same Ministry and any revenue we raise we take it to the Central Government.
We are hamstrung by this kind of set up where there is no clear separation of powers.
There should be a separation of powers. As it is we are just ceremonial leaders.
Q. Earlier on, you said BDP has confidence in you, why then did they want to oust you?
A good question, I must say.
The way some of these BDP councillors think is nonsensical.
BDP came up with an act that clearly stipulates that a two third of majority can pass a motion of no confidence on the sitting mayor.
Reverend Rupert Hambira, just because he has ambitions of being the City Mayor, he has the nerve to challenge my legitimacy without first reading the Act.
Does he expect me to yield to his pressure based on emotions? Hell no, until they have a two third majority, that is when I will allow him to table that motion.
Q. So Hambira wants to be a Mayor?
Just imagine Hambira as a Mayor. There is a leadership vacuum at BDP.
Q. Talking about leadership vacuum at the BDP, the BMD founding Treasurer has just won the Chairmanship of the BDP.
Your take on that?
Guma Moyo used money to decoy voters to his side.
He once tried to recruit me to the BDP using the same tactics and I refused because I joined the BMD based on principles.
All democrats know very well that Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi had won.
She was going to bring the best strategies to that party.
With Guma at the helm, I don’t see the BDP going anywhere.
BDP will have itself to blame. How do you vote for a renegade?
Simply because he had splashed cash around? Only time will tell.
Q. After being a Mayor, where are you heading next?
I have been asked to contest the parliamentary elections for Gaborone North in 2014 under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
I will be standing for the party’s primary elections.
If I win I will be the torch bearer for that constituency.
Q. What skills do you possess, that will catapult you above the others?
In terms of educational background I have sound business and accounting background that will come in handy to the people of Gaborone North.
I have worked for the National Development Bank and later Peo Venture Capital as Investment Manager.
In 2009 I joined Kingdom Bank Africa subsidiary as Head of Business Development and later on I became the City leader.
I have also worked for the University of Botswana as Part-time lecture in the Centre for Continuing Education.
I am the current BMD’s Deputy National Treasurer.
Q. What changes will you bring to Gaborone North?
A lot needs to be changed.
Gaborone North residents for a long time had a docile member of parliament Keletso Rakhudu.
The guy is sleeping on the job.
The only thing he enjoys is being a member of cabinet.
People in Gaborone North do not have access to water; they do not have roads and there is no proper sewerage system in place.
I don’t blame him though because he is old, hence as a young person I should take over and articulate the needs of the people.
People in Phakalane have been crying that the Sewerage Dam is affecting their health, these are some of the many things I will address once I get to parliament.
Q. …and the people of Gaborone North how will you change their lives?
We will develop industries that will empower the youth of that area.
There is a lot that needs to be done in that area.
For instance, I will be the first MP to advocate for a better welfare of the police, army, and other security personnel without fear.
Soldiers reside in Gaborone North, and none of the Mps will ever advocate for them.
Q. Gaborone North is synonymous with student community.
At times they have mountainous problems, how will you help them?
True, we have a lot of tertiary students residing in Gaborone.
Their problems will be mine as I will ensure that their problems are addressed by relevant authorities.
The issue of students being cheated by government will be dealt with thoroughly.
I will also look into the issue of accommodation for them because some are robbed by unscrupulous landlords.
Q. Lastly what will your government do differently from the current regime?
Among many others, our approach to development is to develop industries.
These industries will employ many Batswana as opposed to Ipelegeng.
Because we will be looking at sustainable development for the people, we will make sure that all languages are taught in various schools in those communities that speak that language.
There will be community radio stations across all the communities broadcasting in indigenous languages.
We want a united Nation.