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Fired president’s right hand woman speaks

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Fired president's right hand woman speaks
Fired president's right hand woman speaks

She was abruptly axed from the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) communications sub committee last week.

Roseline Panzira Matshome who is gunning for the party’s Deputy Secretary General (DSG) position reflects on her political journey and her relationship with President Masisi.

Q. Take us through your Political journey

My love for politics dates way back back. My parents have always been involved in politics and we used to attend rallies with them so I have always been somehow involved with politics.

I became very active when Odirile Motlhale was standing for a seat in parliament and I was very much involved in his campaign.

Then politics was cool and fashionable. Fast forward to 2010 I became part of the crew that birthed the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD); I was also part of the first batch to come back to the BDP in 2012.

I was later appointed into the communication subcommittee since 2012 until last Thursday.

Q. There is general thinking that their male counterparts exploit women who are active in politics sexually, is this true?

What I know for sure is you can get into trouble for refusing to sleep with them.

It is difficult not to fall into the trap of course, I just have to be honest with you and say yes it does happen.

Q. What is your stance on allegations that newcomers are rewarded with positions in the BDP?

I don’t think so because many others who I came back with were not ‘rewarded’ to use your words.

I believe I have been serving the party well and that is why I have been re- appointed into the subcommittee over the years.

Q. Would you say the BDP as an organization empowers female politicians or aspiring politicians?

I would say we don’t have anything in place towards supporting women. Other political parties have clear policies to support women.

Q. Tell us about your relationship with President Masisi.

Our relationship started back in 2013 when we started working closely together in the sub committees.

So it has been a fruitful relationship ever since we have not had a problem, as you may know I also played a big part in his campaigns up until his presidency.

Q. Speaking of Masisi’s campaign, you have been labeled as the ‘Gucci bag’ lady, with some saying you were distributing huge sums of money at the July congress, where did you get the money?

I do have a Gucci bag. It is expensive and very visible but no, I did not distribute money or anything else in Tonota.

You see in Tonota we had done our homework, Masisi was home and dry. At the time democrats voted for Masisi willingly.

Q. Were you promised any top government post by Masisi?

Maybe when I retire from politics. I was never promised any position when Masisi took over. I still have very strong political ambitions.

Q. You recently announced your decision to run for the position of the Deputy Secretary general (DSG); did you inform the CC about your decision prior?

What is true is that I aspire to run for the position of the DSG.

I am talking to the Central Committee but I have not talked to the President.

I was running out of time so I could not wait for him to find time in his busy schedule.

I am confident that I am now ready to take on the role.

Q. What are some of the things you will focus on as the DSG?

I want to inspire women and girls to know that you can run for office even if you are perceived to be a nobody.

We are all capable if we put our minds to it. You don’t have to be from any particular family or background.

I also want to be at the heart of the secretariat so that I can help take the power back to the democrats.

I feel that has been lacking over the past years.

I also want to obviously help in bettering the lives of the ordinary Motswana because as a councilor I deal with people on a daily basis and I am aware of their struggles.

Q. Why do you think you were dropped from the committee seeing that you had a major role to play in President Masisi’s campaign over the years?

The president can answer that one better. He made the deliberate decision to drop me from the committee.

I knew it was coming, and I was prepared for it.

Q. Are you aligned to any faction in the BDP?

There are factions within the BPD, definitely they are unavoidable. But for now no, I am not aligned to any lobby list but yes I have my preferred candidates.

Q. Do you endorse Venson Moitoi’s decision to challenge for Presidency?

Yes. Yes I do, the BDP preaches democracy so what she decided to do is well within her democratic right.

I find nothing wrong in what she has done and yes I do endorse her decision.

People ask why she is standing now, and I say because she is ready.

Q. Tell us about your relationship with the first lady, Neo Masisi considering that she is the spouse of someone you have worked closely with?

I have never worked with her. I have never really gotten close to her, I see her around of course.

At times when we go to see the President for work, she is there but because in the past she was working abroad, she was never really there so we have no relationship whatsoever.

Q. But I gather that there was some sort of nasty exchange between you two about your close working relationship with the President, how did you resolve the matter?

I will not comment on that.