34-year-old Lawrence Ookeditse has been the Director of Youth at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) for the past two years but the tall, slim, tanned former columnist resigned from his office last week to start his political journey.
After keeping everyone guessing, this week Ookeditse officially confirmed to The Voice that he has left the civil service for the murky world of politics.
The Voice’s reporter SHARON MATHALA tracked down the charismatic youth, who has a Masters in Politics and International Relations as well as a Degree in Political Science, to discuss his new direction in life.
Q. Now that you have officially left the civil service, what is your next move? There are rumours that you intend standing in the Nata/Gweta primaries in August?
A. Yes. I can confirm to you that I will be running for that office.
I am going in there because there have been a lot of people saying there is need for young people to take up positions of leadership in politics.
It is not to spite anybody. Truth is I stand a better chance because I schooled and grew up there. I see a lot of potential in the area, and a lot of people see me as a role model.
Q. But Nata/Gweta is already in the BDP’s hands – why not chose a different constituency?
A. I am not choosing a constituency that I think I have the best chance at winning.
It is a decision from the heart. If I was to choose a constituency that I think I would win with ease I would choose Gaborone Central – a constituency I have been a resident in and voted in for a very long time.
The way I dress, the way I walk, the way I do things resonates with a lot of people in that constituency.
However, I chose Nata/Gweta because I believe my skills are needed there.
Q. Bulela Ditswe seems to be a cause of much division within the BDP – what are your views on it?
A. It is a necessary evil. It is a system that will always bring out the other part of human beings.
When people lose they complain and blame the system. Bulela Ditswe is the best thing that has ever happened to the BDP.
With Bulela Ditswe democrats are able to choose who they would want to represent them in the general elections.
Q. What would you say to critics who believe, based on the amount of time you have been spending in the area, that you have been campaigning behind the scenes, even as a civil servant
A. The party has not opened for us to campaign yet.
And I respect this because I am a disciplined member of the BDP.
Of course I had visited the Nata/Gweta area in my capacity as the Director of Youth, but I have also done work in other areas.
It is just that people are mischievous!
I have been in other areas but they did not attach the same sentiments that I was campaigning in that particular area.
I obviously have a soft spot for the area because I grew up and schooled there.
Q. What is your relationship with the VP Mokgweetsi Masisi?
A. The Vice President is a liberal man.
He is in touch with modern Botswana and he is in touch with the youth of Botswana, their fears, dreams and aspirations – so yes, I have a close relationship with him.
We share the same beliefs and I share his vision that Botswana can become a better republic. He is not my friend I must say but he is a father figure.
Q. There is general thinking that because of your close relationship with the incoming President, you were approached by the BDP leadership to contest – is that true?
A. Yes I was asked to run but not by him.
I was asked to run by a lot of people around me, within the BDP leadership and the people back home.
After I made the decision that I may want to challenge and run for the constituency, I met with the BDP leadership again for guidance.
I do not want to discuss the conversation or who it was with!
Q. Should you be voted into parliament come 2019, you would become one of the country’s youngest MPs. Apart from your constituency, what would your priority areas be?
A. I would focus on getting our youth to dream and to have positive thinking.
They should believe things are possible. The education system also needs shaping so it produces young citizens who are more resilient in the world of work.
I would engage in debates on tackling crime in the country, and look at taking an holistic approach to the problem.
I am also passionate about the gender dynamic in our country, something which I had been doing even when I was still at the University of Botswana (UB).