Aiming for country’s presidency
When the Botswana National Front (BNF) split in 1998, leading to the formation of the Botswana Congress Party, Anna Motlhagodi was part of the Executive Committee that was expelled.
As one of the founding members of the BCP , Motlhagodi has since tirelessly worked for the party and continues to serve the community in the best way possible, positively impacting individual lives of many in the process.
A lawyer by profession, Motlhagodi who has also tried to get into parliament with no luck tells Sinqoe Tessa in this interview that she has not given up hope of becoming an MP. Not only that, in this in-depth interview Motlhagodi reveals that she habours dreams of one day being in the State House as the president of Botswana.
Please introduce yourself
I was born in Namibia because there were no health facilities in my home village of Bokspits. What is strange though is that even though I was born in Namibia I have never been to my country of birth. I come from an Afrikaans speaking background and only learnt my first Setswana words in school. I am happy to say my Setswana has improved over the years mainly due to my political career. I am a lawyer by profession and have clocked 23 years in the industry, an industry that I got into by mistake.
Q. Mmm… so what did you want to be?
My parents were business people and so I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I only decided to be a lawyer after passing high school and had to ask myself, what next. The only answer was to continue with my education and hence pursued a career in law. I must say I am living my dream because I am running my own business which is my law firm, Motlhagodi and Company
Q. And I guess you have grown to love the job
Oh yes I have, I can’t imagine myself doing any other job, there is never a dull moment in law. Everyday has its own challenges and everyday is a classroom and I am enjoying every moment of it more so that my children are all grown up now. This means I have all the time to do my job unlike before when I had to divide my time between them and my career.
Q. What have been the highest and lowest points of your career?
Can’t think of the highest but the lowest is certainly the recent move by the Law Society of Botswana to publish our names in the press because we had not renewed our practicing licenses. I watched my reputation that I had built over the years crashing down within a split second over something which was not even worth publishing in the press. I knew like most lawyers that I had to renew my licence and I was going to without the Law society embarrassing me like that. It was one of those painful and emotionally draining times but I’m glad it’s all over now.
Q. What is your dream in as far as your legal career is concerned?
To be a judge, that’s my biggest dream and I am sure one day it will come true.
Q. Before we talk about you being a politician, let’s talk about the strike. Its entering its seventh week and looks like it would still continue, what do you think should be done to end all this?
You know I just wish a solution can be found between the two parties, that is the government and the workers. The strike has too many repercussions . I feel the pain of the students and the parents and all those who are seriously affected, people seeking health care and the business community because our economy is heavily dependent on the government.
Q. But you have not answered my question, what do you think should be the way forward?
Let me answer your question as a politician. As BCP we support the strike because we recognise that workers have a genuine demand and we naturally hoped that they would be a genuine effort to address their concerns. It is a pity and regrettable that the government has taken a hard line stance while the country’s president has also chosen not to face the unions. As the leader of this nation he must meet with the unions face to face and offer them something reasonable since he is saying the government has no money.
Q. President Khama somehow blames the opposition for the strike, what is your reaction to this?
It’s very sad that he is blaming the opposition for everything that has unfolded yet it is clear for all to see that these are genuine demands of workers.
Q. On the other hand some people are putting the blame on him to the extent of hurling insults at him, your take?
Khama must know that kgosi thotobolo e olela matlakala ( loosely meaning a chief or leader must take all the rubbish). However he must not be petty but rise above the occasion and prove that he is a true leader by addressing all issues in a proper way not what he is doing now.
Q. Now let’s talk politics, you have tried your luck to get into parliament more than once with no success, are you contesting again in 2014.
Oh yes definitely I will be contesting. In the last election we came second in my Gaborone West North and come 2014 I will be number 1 because dynamics are changing and they are changing in our favour.
Q. Still on parliament, a few months back you lost to Dr Gloria Somolekae as a specially elected Member of Parliament, how did that make you feel?
I may have lost but the truth of the matter is that I felt proud that three opposition parties saw it fit for me to be nominated as a specially elected MP. When I was told that I would be battling it out with Dr Somolekae I didn’t delude myself to think hat I would win because BDP has the majority in the house but it showed that the opposition has greatly matured. What they did by choosing one candidate was a big statement, a statement that clearly shows that parties are willing to work as one.
Q. Botswana is battling with the issue of few women in active politics, what do you think should be done to address this?
I personally believe and so does BCP as a party that there should be a quarter system which would ensure that a certain number of seats be it at council or parliamentary level are reserved for women. And as a nation we should stop having negative attitudes towards women who are in leadership positions and give them all the support that they need. If women can make it in the private sector why can’t they do so in politics?
Q. Lastly,what is your political dream?
It’s a big dream, to be the president of Botswana. It is something that I am not afraid to openly talk about because I believe I have what it takes to lead this country. In our last BCP congress I wanted to contest as a vice president but I opted for the secretary of legal affairs because of the fragile pact that we were getting into with BAM. So in the interest of the project I opted for another position and won.
Full names: Anna Motlhagodi
Date of birth: March 7, 1965
Place of Birth: Namibia
Home village: Bokspits
Languages: Afrikaans, Setswana and English
Mentor: Her late father
Car driving: Mercedes Benz E Class
Past-time: Exercising, reading and spending quality time with close friends
Book currently reading: My Life by Bill Clinton
Favourite saying: Just go