Fidelis MacDonald Mmilili Molao’s return to parliament may turn out to be a walk in the park because opposition parties are failing to field a candidate against him.
UDC has not identified its candidate while the fate of the BCP aspirant is still surrounded by uncertainty. The Voice Reporter Daniel Chida had time with the youthful MP and Botswana Democratic Party’s candidate for the new Shashe West constituency.
Q: Welcome to Politically Speaking Sir, can you tell our readers who you are?
I first set foot in Gaborone when I came to register at UB. I caught the 9 a.m. Botswana Railways passenger train to Gaborone.
When I arrived I quickly went to register at UB and finished everything and got onto the evening train to go back to Francistown.
Before I came to finally settle in the city I was just living a rural life like any other boy in Mathangwane. I am a naturally soft-spoken and reserved person but never mistake that for weakness!
Q: When did you become active in politics?
I joined the Botswana Democratic Party in 1995 and straight away got a life membership card and never looked back since. I went through the structures to get to where I am right now. I was not parachuted from the bottom to the top.
Q: You went to Parliament via a by-election, when were you intending to contest?
It is correct I went to Parliament through a by-election upon the passing on of our beloved MP Rre Gaolathe (MHSRIP). Remember I was his campaign coordinator in 2009. Yes coming to your point the original intention was to contest this year, 2014, but fortuitously it came earlier and I am enjoying it.
Q: Tell us about how you were active in the Party before you became an MP?
I was an active member of GS-26 at UB where I was publicity secretary and went on to be Political officer for Gaborone Central.
I was prominent in the campaigns when Dr. Nasha dethroned Mike Dingake of BCP.
I went on to serve in different party committees from the youth wing through to Central Committee sub committees such as Political Education and elections , Culture and Publicity and note I am the first ever Secretary to the Party Electoral board chaired by Parks Tafa and also the Council of Elders.
I was the Deputy Executive Secretary during my friend Botsalo Ntuane’s time as the Executive Secretary.
Comma Serema who took over from Ntuane found me there and I served for almost seven years before I quit to join Botswana National Sports Council Marketing and Communications department and later Botswana National Youth Council as Executive Director.
Q: What’s your main objective as a politician?
My objective has always been to serve my country and my people.
Q: Are you achieving it?
Yes, I think so.
Q: How is your campaign going?
My campaign is going quite well although there are hiccups here and there but we shall overcome them.
I don’t have a lot of money behind me, so I am running a modest and honest campaign which is issue based and has a common touch showing people that I am part of them and I struggle with them, I live like them and amongst them.
It’s a simple message.
Q: What challenges are you facing?
The recession has compounded things in that many projects were set aside like construction of the Mandunyane -Mathangwane road passing through Borolong and Chadibe inclusive of access roads to Natale and Makobo.
This is an important economic link road which will have positive spin-offs in the local area.
The construction of the long-delayed Marapong and Sebina police stations and the creation and operationalisation of the Sebina Sub District and Mathangwane and Borolong service centres to bring services close to the people.
It is however not all doom and gloom in that a few things I initiated have been happening like the electrification of Mafongo- Hubona village and the granting of a kgotla of records, the Makobo Bailey Bridge has been completed linking Mathangwane to Makobo and all my schools and dikgotla now have computers amongst others.
I still hope to do more though.
Q: The community of Chadibe is losing trust in you due to the bad standard of the road linking them to Borolong, what are you doing to ensure that the road is tarred or gravelled?
The gravel roads in my constituency are generally not adequately maintained if at all, however I have been advised that a grader has been bought and maintenance will start soon.
Chida, this road gives me sleepless nights let me tell you! It is true I even took the Minister of Transport to Chadibe and Mathangwane recently to go and address the issue.
When in Parliament I never miss an opportunity to highlight the state of this road, it is bad, to be honest it is very bad, note that its design was long completed and due to the so called recession we are where we are!
The affinity I have with the people of Chadibe is amazing, I am at home amongst them because my struggle is their struggle and I trust them so much that they have shown me parental love, so no they are not losing trust in me, instead they actually trust me to deliver as indeed does the whole constituency.
Q: Your area has a high number of unemployment especially the youth, how many permanent jobs were created in the constituency since you took office?
That’s a difficult one, as an MP you can only do so much. As you know we don’t use our money to create employment.
I would say the copper mine in Matsitama has been handy in terms of boosting economic activity in the area through permanent and non-permanent jobs, a sizeable number of my constituents are engaged there, some are providing accommodation.
Q: What are your plans for creating permanent jobs in your constituency?
The plans include taking advantage of the greater Francistown planning area which incorporates villages such as Mathangwane, Chadibe and Borolong to present my constituency as an investment destination in that we have land from which to erect factory shells and other activities, watch this space!
I will also strive to run more workshops for the youth especially to train them on how to identify economic opportunities.
I have already had about four successful ones and have set up a youth advisory committee though it is not working optimally due mainly to scarce resources.
Q: We hear you will be heading to Gaborone to help your friend Botsalo Ntuane because yours is a closed chapter, how true is that?
I will be all over the country helping out where I can in that I also need help. Yes I cannot miss out on helping my friend in his hour of need he is such a talent and both the BDP and the parliament shouldn’t lose him.
The people of Bonnington South are blessed to have a person of his calibre as their representative. We are more than just friends, we are brothers.
The other one is OD Motlhale. I was in his constituency last week to lend a helping hand to his campaign.
They will also be in my constituency on the 24th to attend my launch in Sebina. I expect to do a lot of campaigning in my Region North East to help my good neighbours, like Batshu and others.
Q: Opposition parties are battling to field candidates in your area what does that mean?
I urge them to give me a free ride because I have been an effective MP. Hahaha ha ha ha! But honestly I will take whoever they field seriously because I want a big win together with my team.
Hey, before I forget, I read somewhere that my former opponent in the party whom I defeated twice will be an independent candidate (mokoko) so the challenge widens, but I am not bothered, I am battle hardened.
Q: Poverty Eradication Pitso was held in your area, is there something that the community achieved?
I lobbied for it to come to my area and especially Jamataka and I believe the objective has been achieved.
I wanted to amplify the status of the village of Jamataka which I have long advocated that it be included in the list of remote area settlements and I took advantage of the workshop to highlight that to the powers that be, and am aware the request is being looked into.
I pray it finds favour in that they saw for themselves what’s on the ground.
If you go to Jamataka now you will find that the implementation of projects was speeded up in preparation for the workshop and old roads were refurbished while new ones were created, so yes it was beneficial.
Q: Do you think government should continue with such initiatives?
Yes it is a good initiative which targets people according to their needs and capacities. Of course there is room for improvement.
As I said it targets the downtrodden of our society. If it’s implemented well and monitored properly it will pay dividends in a few years to come.
Q: As someone who can be considered youthful, are there no other better ways of eradicating poverty that you can advise cabinet or President Ian Khama on?
We advise all the time, my man, and we have talked about beneficiating our minerals and the beef sector to name a few in order to create downstream industries which can employ more people and create more wealth.
We have advocated for a robust citizen economic law as opposed to policy with the belief that it will give indigenous Batswana a stake in the economy and hence broaden the wealth base.
We have advocated for the elimination of the ‘free for all’ attitude adopted by investors that relocate their profits at will without investing a certain percentage locally.
These issues take long to turn around and in the meantime your ordinary chap in Jamataka who wants to rear goats must be given the opportunity to do so by the government which cares. Batho baje meamuso ya lehatshe la bone, Chida. (Let the people enjoy the benefits of their country’s resources).
Q: President Khama has overlooked you preferring older men when selecting cabinet, what does that mean?
I never felt overlooked at all. It is nice at the back bench because you can speak freely without the inhibitions of the so-called collective responsibility.
You are able to robustly advocate for your people, I have found it quite interesting. Furthermore I serve in different Parliamentary oversight committees such as PAC and others.
I have travelled the world on Parliamentary assignments and have learnt a lot.
I am now well-grounded such that if I can be called to serve in cabinet I won’t fail but I am not losing sleep over such a posting.
Q: Is it not because some consider you an opposition sympathiser?
It would be unfortunate if anybody thinks I am an opposition sympathiser, I have no affinity for the opposition but I won’t hesitate to support a good motion if it comes from the opposition, my man. You see Chida, a NO which is said from your sincere conviction is worth more than a YES which is said to please or to curry favour.
In fact my dad taught me this from an early age that I should not agree with everything he says just because he is an elder.
He taught me to be able to say no if I didn’t agree with him, as long as I didn’t insult him. I was in standard six when he taught me that lesson.
Q: Some say Khama does not want you in his cabinet because you party a lot. Your comment on that?
I told you I do not lose sleep over a cabinet posting. I am enjoying myself in the back bench but anyhow what can we say, people are entitled to their opinion otherwise what can we say.
I don’t think I party a lot, yes I do sip alcohol when I have the time be it with my constituents in my area or out with my friends.
We also do a lot of camping at Khutse, we go to Mantshwabise and also the horse races in Maun to have fun and connect with people; it is refreshing and you learn quite a bit.
Q: You are one of the MPs who was said to be on their way to BMD but you did not cross the floor, can clarify that?
I never ever at any point contemplated crossing the floor to BMD. I think the rumour was peddled out of malice by people from within, with the hope that it would stop my journey to Parliament. I just laugh it off now that they have egg on their faces!