Politician, philanthropist, businessman, socialite and family man, Robert Masitara openly and freely expresses his dream to become the next President of Botswana.
In a discussion of a wide range of issues Masitara talks to MMIKA SOLOMON about his much awaited report on statutory bodies that is expected to raffle a few feathers in parliament.
Hello Robert, it has been a while how are you doing in politics?
Hello, my brother indeed it has been a while. Politics has taken a different twist of late. There has been a lot of back stabbing both within the BDP as a party and at parliament.
It is that time, the election period fever if you like. People are positioning themselves for various posts. There is a lot of lobbying doing rounds in political circles. You will never know who your true friend is.
Indeed. So since you entered parliament what has been the highlight of your career as a legislature?
As a member of parliament, I have managed to help the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government to lure investors into the country.
Let me specifically talk about my constituency which is Gaborone West North. Through my good leadership skills, investors have built shopping malls, there has been a mushrooming of Chain stores in my constituency.
Schools are being built in my constituency to some extent there has been a creation of employment.
Not forgetting that hotels are being built too. I have also moved motions which have been adopted by parliament.
How does that make you a better Member of Parliament?
In my constituency I have advocated for the building of recreational facilities.
Both Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, Masitara Foundation and department of arts and culture built a recreational facility in block 3.
I have also advocated for the children and women in this country especially when it comes to health issues.
I want all health facilities in this country to be better equipped with state of the art facilities. I also want all health professionals to be better remunerated because we all depend on them.
As an MP I don’t dwell on petty issues in parliament I address bread and butter issues.
What about developments?
Talking about developments my constituency has seen an improvement in road infrastructure.
The potholes are being fixed. Despite limited resources we have the City Council doing their best to fix some of the roads. Bosele ward is a classic example.
You promised your constituents that once elected into parliament you will build a bridge for them. To date that promise has not been fulfilled.
The issue of the bridge was taken out of context both by the media and political opponents. It was in 2005, when I first asked the voters to vote for me. Instead they voted for BNF’s Otsweletse Moupo.
Moupo later disappointed the opposition with his lack of leadership skills. Besides what I meant then was that I was going to lobby parliament to build a bridge in my constituency.
And in 2009, when you were voted into parliament the talk of the bridge stopped. I bet many people voted you because of that bridge you promised them.
When I entered parliament in 2009, there was an economic downturn the world over. Botswana was affected too. I never said I will build a bridge with my own money.
The bridge is estimated to cost over P100 million, where do I get that kind of money.
No MP in the world has done that, the least I could do is to advocate for the bridge to be built in the constituency.
But I am not stupid to just stand in parliament and say build a bridge in my constituency when I knew for a fact that there was no money in government coffers.
How did you enter politics?
My first contact person in the BDP was His Excellency President Ian Khama.
I sat down with him and I told him my road map. In-fact I owe him a lot. He has done a lot for me politically. At the time he was the Vice-President.
You and President Khama are friends?
He is my mentor, when it comes to politics. I am where I am because of President Khama. He is like a brother to me.
I will never betray him not even once. My role as an MP is to complement him, not to differ with him in public. Remember President Khama launched me into politics when everybody was scared of my presence in the BDP.
Former President Festus Mogae didn’t like me either and so did the likes of the then BDP top brass of his era. President Khama made it known that he was going to welcome me into the BDP at a public rally.
But Khama did not appoint you to his cabinet although you seem to be suggesting that the two of you are close.
President Khama is the most intelligent man or rather President, Botswana has ever had.
He is the first president to appoint men and women of high quality leadership since independence.
Look at his cabinet, it is composed of the best brains in parliament. I never doubted his cabinet and I believe he knew what he was doing when he was appointing them.
I am not bitter that he did not appoint me. In-fact all BDP Mps complement cabinet. This parliament is the best thus far. We can’t be in cabinet all of us even if we can dream about it.
So you and Khama are like hand and glove. You might as well tell us who is the President after Khama?
I am the next the President of Botswana after president Khama. I believe Khama has groomed me to be the next president of Botswana.
Lol @ President Masitara, shed some light on this interesting succession plan.}
I fancy myself as the next President. I have all the leadership qualities of a leader. I am educated, I am humble, I relate well to all and sundry.
I am in touch with the ordinary masses. I have the interest of the business people at heart. I am the most popular BDP activist after President Khama. That one is a fact. I am a self made man.
In your constituency Umbrella for Democratic Change President Duma Boko is likely to challenge you in 2014 national elections. What do you think of this celebrity Politician?
Boko is an educated man. I respect him as an individual. He does not pose any threat for me politically though.
His decision to challenge Masitara is like a political suicide. He should have chosen a weaker candidate. He will be embarrassed after the elections. Just like his sister Anna Motlhagodi was embarrassed in the last elections.
How many of you in the BDP want to contest for the constituency?
I am told there about seven (7) of us who are vying for that constituency.
You chair the two most powerful parliamentary bodies. Some say you used your privilege as the Chairman to settle political scores. Is it true?
I was selected by the speaker of parliament to chair those bodies you talking about.
I did not choose myself to sit on them. I did what the mandate dictated me to do. I was not out to get anybody.
Those whom the committee found to have broken the law will be dealt with by the law. Masitara did what he was asked to do.
Some members of the same committee were not happy that you are chairing the two committees and I hear there was near rebellion?
I am aware that some members of the committee wanted to topple me because the contents contained in the report were threatening to be explosive.
Fortunately President Khama does not condone corruption and he has assured me that he wants Botswana to be corruption free.
Those MPs could not succeed because they were looking at their selfish interest, they were being used by parastatals Chief Executives Officers who wanted to protect their jobs.
Even the parliamentary administration was involved in scheming behind my back.
CEO’s and Mps where is the link?
Members of Parliament are supposed to serve the community not their selfish interest. Because of their low salaries, more often than not they dance to the tune of parastatal CEO’s.
The reason being that MPs are given campaign money by Parastatals CEO’s and in return they get some kind of insurance to keep their jobs despite their corrupt practices.
That being the case may be it is high time MPs salaries are increases so that they can start living within their means. Unlike today whereby they drive flashy cars on empty tanks.
I don’t believe MPs salaries should be increased. We are the ones who told the civil servants that the country does not have money. We advised the President to tell the workers that there is no money.
So we can’t turn around and advocate for more money for ourselves.
Politics is not a money making career but a national service. It is not the problem of the electorate that their MP is poor.
They should put the interest of the nation first. I am aware that most MPs can be classified as poor people pretending to be living large.
Do we have corrupt members of parliament?
They are many of them who are corrupt. Most Mps in parliament are there for their selfish interest.
I will continue to fight corruption in this country even if it means losing elections.
We can’t have thugs disguising as members of parliament. Some of the parastatals CEO’s are wearing suites, when in-fact they know they are criminals in suites.
Batswana will remember me as the first MP who fought corruption.
Civil servants complained to you that female officers are not promoted on merit. How far true is that?
I have received complaints from female working both in government and the private sector that they are being used sexually. They tell me that for them to progress they have to satisfy the sexual desires of their male bosses.
This thing must be addressed and must be stopped. I will advocate for a law that protect women in the workplace.
It is sickening to imagine this old senior government officers asking for sexual favours from our sisterS. Some of the Private Secretaries think it is their right to sleep with female juniors in exchange for promotions.
Thank you Sir, we wish you luck in your Presidential ambition.
I am humbled. Let it be clear that I will contest for Presidency after HE has left.
My model will be that the president should be voted by the public, so that we gauge who is more popular.
I have helped about 32 kids through Masitara Foundation that on its own shows that should I be given a large platform I could wonders for the people of this country.