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Khama’s blue-eyed boy

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Khama's blue-eyed boy
Khama's blue-eyed boy

His name was marred by controversy when he rose from a Private in the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to a Senior Administration Officer – Health Safety Officer at the Ministry of Lands Management, Water and Sanitation Services five years ago.

Voice Staffer, Daniel Chida spoke with flamboyant 27-year-old civil servant, Tshepang Mabaila, who has been labelled Khama’s blue-eyed boy by certain quarters of society, to find out what’s behind his swift and seemingly unstoppable rise to success.

Q. It is our pleasure to have you here. Let’s talk about Mabaila, who is he?

I am a young, ambitions man who was born and bred in Serowe but now resides in Mogoditshane.

I am a doing my final year, Bachelors in Counseling at Boitekanelo College.

Before that I had enrolled at Belford University in Los Angeles to study Psychology but unfortunately the school was not accredited.

I have its certificate, which I am not using.

I also run my own foundation called Mabaila Foundation, which helps senior citizens and the less privileged.

Q. Looking at government salaries, how do you afford to have so many expensive cars such as Benz, Range Rovers and the like?

I run a number of businesses, amongst them, Emirates Solutions, which has a security company under it, VIP Protection Unit, a transportation business and Security systems where we install alarms and CCTV. I also buy clothes from India and South Africa and sell here. I do quite a number of things including having a cash loan.

Q. Okay, tell us about your foundation.

That is where my heart is – giving back to the community is my passion. The Mabaila Foundation was registered in 2012 and my main focus is senior citizens, our elders.

Although we cannot ignore other things like youth unemployment, my main focus has been on elders.

Organisations are meant to help government not to benefit individuals.

If I remember well, Mabaila Foundation was the first one to give blankets to elders.

We also have Academic Awards of Excellence. Our education has gone down but we are all responsible.

There has to be coordination between teachers, students and parents.

In May, we will have an event where teachers with the best performing classes in Mogoditshane will be recognised and rewarded.

The Minister of Education from South Africa, Lindiwe Zulu will be the guest speaker.

The best teacher for Primary School will get P10, 000, Junior Secondary P15, 000 and P20, 000 for Senior Secondary Schools.

Best performing students will be getting P5, 000 each.

We also donated orange trees to all the kgotlas in Mogoditshane and gave elders with eye problems glasses.

We gave 15 disabled students at Moamogwe Primary School uniforms.

Q. Why are you so interested in Mogoditshane?

Mogoditshane has been neglected to the point where it looks like a settlement and not a catchment area of Gaborone that it is.

It is filled with bars populated by idle youths who have resorted to drinking.

I will be organising a Youth Forum in June, specifically for Mogoditshane Youth.

The streets lights you see in Mogoditshane are for the road heading to Molepolole – Mogoditshane itself is dark.

There are many car dealers in Mogoditshane but they are of no benefit to the community that they do business in.

Our police there have a shortage of vehicles but those dealers fail to come together and donate at least five cars.

Our BDF camp is surrounded by car dealers who come from Nigeria and that alone is a security threat; I have been a soldier and I know what I am talking about.

Why surround an army camp? It is too risky! I am not saying they must go but security wise those garages are a threat.

What if one day they decide to attack our camp? We must not rule that out because we do not know what they are planning and why they targeted the BDF camp.

Q. So what are you planning to do?

Youth in Mogoditshane should be educated on what they can do with their land instead of selling it to foreigners.

We can move our country forward if we give young people a chance to lead – the problem is no one nurtures them! We need a database of unemployed youths.

We don’t need them working in Ipelegeng.

Q. Does that mean government has failed the youths then?

I am not saying that but we need a generational vision not tournaments where people are given football kits.

What happens after getting that kit? Nothing! We have to engage and mentor disabled people and have more of them in councils and at parliament.

Khama's blue-eyed boy
Khama’s blue-eyed boy: Mabaila

Q. There has been talk about your private and personal relationship with President Ian Khama – give us a hint?

Hahahaha, I am wondering why people would say that.

Our President is our role model but I don’t know what friendship people are referring to.

It’s just petty talk and I cannot stop people from talking.

We are from the same village and he inspired me.

Q. Do you have political ambitions?

Yes, I want to be a Member of Parliament, nominated or voted for by the people, I don’t mind because my aim is to be in Parliament and represent Batswana.

I am intending to quit government at the end of May. I have been in the service for too long already.

Q. I have it on good authority that you will be contesting in the next elections. True or False?

I cannot tell which constituency I will be contesting in now because I am still a government employee.

If I leave I will call the press and tell you where I will be trying my luck but people have been asking me to stand for elections and I support them because it is time for us youth to stand up and be counted.

Youths are needed at Parliament; we need young people like Ditlhapelo Keorapetse of BCP, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of EFF and DA President Mmusi Maimane in Parliament.

Q. So you are a determined man?

Yes, I don’t mind becoming the Vice President tomorrow, it is up to us youth to stand up and contest for positions in politics, unions and other sectors.

It is time for old people to leave office for us youth to be in charge.

Q. Okay let’s wait for the end of May then. Meanwhile, how are you going to spend your Easter Holidays?

I am a Christian who is always at church.