Theresa Gaorelathe Bashadi Mmolawa nee Ntuane is one of a number of women who will be contesting for a Parliamentary position come October 2014.
The Voice Reporter Daniel Chida had an interview with the UDC candidate who will be representing the Umbrella body in Francistown East.
Q: Welcome Madam, it’s a rare pleasure to have a lady here, how are you doing?
Indeed and that’s why I chose the political path. I have realised that in Botswana it is rare for us women to traverse this landscape. It is our cultural and traditional beliefs that make us believe politics should be a domain for men only. I for one believe women are naturally good leaders, partly from skills honed over hundreds of years nurturing boys while they become men.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
I am a catalyst, a pace setter. I am intelligent, grounded, caring and compassionate, a good listener.
I am self-driven, a hard worker, I believe in myself and I am a God-fearing woman.
I married a very loving, supportive and caring man Mr. Kagiso Bene Mmolawa who sadly and suddenly passed away last year.
Yes, I am heartbroken beyond words but who am I to question before God, the giver of life.
Q: When did you join politics?
I joined active politics in July, 2012, when I retired from my long and interesting teaching career.
Q: You come from a BDP family but you are in opposition, how did that come about?
Yes I come from a BDP family and I have been closely watching how the BDP has been leading this country. In our family we discuss openly the way the country is run.
It came to a point where I realised that things are not being done properly. Certain developments signalled fears we had that Botswana might mirror what’s happened in neighbouring countries where leaders became dictators and don’t listen to their countrymen.
For example workers’ rights trodden upon, deteriorating educational standards and spiralling youth unemployment, poor service delivery and Batswana expressing dissatisfaction generally in all spheres of life.
I realised that I could not simply sit back and complain from my living room.
My husband and I talked a lot about global socio-economic and political issues and related them to our situation n Botswana.
This had a lot of impact on how I measured our leaders and their governance.
Ultimately, we agreed that opposition is the way to go. We had our own fears and felt that something needed to be done to raise political awareness and consciousness.
Q: You are coming up against two heavyweights in Morgan Moseki and Buti Billy, who do you see as the weakest link?
Who said they are heavyweights? There is nothing like heavyweights in politics, look at what Julius Malema has done with his new born party in South Africa.
That is precisely what I am going to do to ruffle feathers. Just watch this space. I am a fighter; no one should take me for granted.
Q: You are little known in politics and yet coming up against established politicians, what is your strategy to win votes?
Little known in politics? I tend to disagree. I know of people who were government employees for many years and decided to go straight into politics and they won elections, many are in the ruling party BDP. I have multiple strategies.
And my biggest weapon is I easily merge with people from all walks of life. I have a lot of support from women, youth and men.
As a professional I enjoy a lot of support from my former colleagues, teachers, former students who are now adults and some are in my campaign team and all government and private sector employees, even small business people in Francistown.
I am a highly sellable candidate in Francistown East. As a former teacher, School-Head, I articulate myself very well.
When I speak people listen and at the end I score goals since both young and old always give me the thumbs up.
Q: How is your campaign going?
It is going very well. We do strategic campaigning and I enjoy every minute of it, even though it’s a lot of hard work.
I am a workaholic so I can’t complain. I have a very smart campaign team who all work hard, are committed and self-motivated.
They are unemployed youth. My heart goes out to them, they are just amazing to say the least.
I wish I had money to give them a small monthly stipend to buy basic things like toiletries and a drink after a hard day’s work.
So far I am very happy with the response I get from people I have met.
Q: What are the challenges you are facing?
The very obvious one is financial constraints, otherwise, besides that there are none.
Q: Nothing much has been heard of you holding rallies or participating in party events, how are you selling yourself?
I am still working on the ground. I don’t take Batswana/constituents for granted. I visit their homes to know me first and what I stand for before I can go about holding rallies. I am seriously selling myself. Mind you I was born and bred in Francistown am not a newcomer here. I am well known. I am a Francistowner.
Q: What is it that you bring into politics as a former teacher?
I am an educationalist with a Masters degree. I am going to advocate for better and skills based education.
There is rampant corruption and nepotism in both the government and private sectors.
I am going to speak out strongly against such cancerous practices that deprive the country of good service delivery and competence.
I would advocate for a complete curriculum overhaul, that there should be provision of pre-school education for three year olds and above, so as to prepare children for better schooling.
I will also ensure that local raw materials like soda ash, beef products and minerals should be processed locally by having industries that would create jobs.
I will advocate for better employment opportunities for teachers, nurses, police officers, soldiers and other employees.
Q: Between men and women who are giving you more support?
I enjoy equal support from both men and women. Although we don’t have many women in politics.
Q: Why not?
I think this is basically due to the fact that politics has been male dominated since Botswana gained independence.
Women endorsed that and I think the other reason was that then men were more educated than women in the past and understood issues of governance better.
Another stifling and huge hindrance for women in taking part in politics is socio-economic disparities.
Q: What drove you into politics that scares other women?
The urge to see change in our country. After leaving teaching I realised that there are so many school leavers who are just loitering in the streets and doing nothing.
I feel strongly that our education system (that is BDP-led) has failed the nation.
I strongly believe if the school curriculum was skills based education there would be less unemployment.
The unemployed youth are a serious burden to their parents and women suffer the most, since many are single mothers.
The plight of the unemployed youth who complete tertiary education and become Namola leuba recruits. I believe my voice and experience as a teacher and a mother can make a difference. Ministry of Health is another area of concern, lack of medicine, negligence of the sick and long queues.
Poverty is increasing, despite claims by the ruling party that poverty eradication schemes are working.
Q: What is your message to them?
I would say to my sisters out there, I know your priority is to be a provider to your family, but I believe with more women taking part in politics we can make this country a better place for our children and future generations since we understand better the plight of children.
Ladies, we are the custodians of a better Botswana.
Please don’t be scared to join politics, this is the platform we can use to challenge male domination in the multi-million tender arena and their dominance in land ownership.
Botswana yo ke wa rona rotlhe. Please women lets support one another, not because we are women but know we can perform better than some of our male counterparts in politics. Francistown East women I have taken this great and brave move.
Please support me.
Q: Women always cry foul when challenged by men, do you think people should be voted based on gender?
There is no room to cry foul as we advocate for 50/50 gender balance, to me it should be viewed holistically. Everything should be determined by fair play and competence. Both should deliver and prove that they have what it takes to be in the position they are competing for.
Q: Which woman do you think contributed most in parliament?
Thumbs up for Margaret Nasha, she executes her duties very diligently and impartially. Mrs. Joy Phumaphi during her tenure as the Minister of Health, she performed very well.
Q: Should abortion be legalised or not legalised?
I need more time to think about it.
It is multifaceted.
Q: Should morning after pills be provided for free in government clinics?
For those who don’t have money to buy them from the chemists.
Q: If elected what will be your priority in Parliament?
My priority would be to talk about youth unemployment, poor infrastructural developments in Francistown East, improving the standard of the education system, good governance, plight of employees unionised and non-unionised and party funding.
Q: What developments will you bring to Francistown?
Francistown as a city is seriously underdeveloped and unattractive. I will advocate for the following; Good roads, the internal roads are a nightmare especially in Francistown East, construction of storm water drainage systems this is appalling and during rainy seasons homes are flooded and property damaged, upgrading of clinics, lure investors to come to Francistown to open industries to create employment, have a proper market place for selling vegetables and other wares.
Environmental issues, cleanliness rubbish collection around the city, provision of streetlights and their regular maintenance.
Recreational places, request old buildings owners in the CBD to upgrade them, provision of accommodation for workers.
Q: Where did the past MP fail?
He has literally failed and is beaten hands down in every sphere of development in Francistown East.
Q: What is your message to voters?
Please don’t hesitate to vote for me in October, I know the constituency very well. I am familiar with the challenges facing the constituency as captured under the item on developments. I am your able, capable and right representative. I have a team of six councillors that I work with – three women and three men. I appeal to you to vote for them as you vote for me in October, they are vibrant and hard working.