Ambition, determination and the will to represent the people of Gaborone Central in the upcoming general elections is what motivated Tumisang Mangwegape-Healey to contest for a parliamentary seat. The political novice opens up in an interview with MMIKA SOLOMON about the impending Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) re-run elections which are slated for 1st March 2014 where he will try to clinch the seat to represent his party in parliament.
Q. I have never come across your name in politics where have you been?
I joined the BDP about 10 years ago. I haven’t held any leadership position in the party. I did not contest because I wanted to take time to understand the way things are run in the party.
Q. You look young, how old are you?
I am 36 years old. I am the most suitable candidate with the ability to take on both Gomolemo Motswaledi of UDC and BCP’s Dumelang Saleshando. I can match them pound for pound.
Q. I believe this is the second time you are trying your luck for the Gaborone Central parliamentary seat in the BDP. Why should the people of that area choose you?
As I said I am young and intelligent. Without blowing my own trumpet I believe I am the only one who can effectively debate with the opposition giants in the constituency. The other parties are fielding young people because it is their turn to lead. Furthermore, I grew up in Extension 9. I did not come to Gaborone Central either through school or work, this is my home and I know it better than any other politician who has come to this constituency.
Q. Why did you choose the BDP as your political home?
The BDP is the most organized party in the country. It is doing its best in running the country and is the only party that knows how to manage internal differences.
Q. If BDP knows how to manage internal differences there wouldn’t be any BMD, don’t you think?
Contrary to what most people believe BMD founders never left the BDP on their own, they were expelled because they were causing confusion within the party.
Q. You forget easily, who at BDP expelled Gomolemo Motswaledi- the founding president of BMD?
With the exception of Sir G, most of them were expelled. What I meant is that when they were called for disciplinary hearings they opted out of the party.
Q. Earlier on you said you are young, what does age have to do with elections?
Gaborone Central has a lot of young people who face challenges in accessing government programmes. As a young person I would be able to relate with them and assist them to achieve their dreams.
Q. What are the challenges faced by constituents in Gaborone Central?
In my neighborhood Extension 9, we are going for the 9th year without streetlights. Some parks are hideouts for petty criminals. This is happening because Gaborone Central does not have a capable leader at parliament. Anyway I don’t expect him to understand our issues given that he lives in Phakalane.
Q. MP Dumelang Saleshando is a good representative don’t you think?
My feelings are that Gaborone Central constituents have an MP who is mostly interested in national issues. He never addresses challenges that affect the people in his constituency. Saleshando is more concerned about his national image and he has never been visible in the constituency.
Q. If given a chance, how are you going to be different?
I stay in the constituency so people would have access to me all the time. I would compile a timetable that shows my scheduled meetings. I would also be accountable to the people not the other way round.
I am not going to be like Lord Dums. He stays in Phakalane and has even registered to vote there. This shows that he does not deserve to be voted back into parliament to represent this constituency. Besides he has overstayed without any concrete achievements.
Q. Is there anything special about the BDP or being associated with the party?
When you are with the BDP, you are with the brand. Everybody knows that the BDP is a party of high standards. In addition, my personal touch in the constituency sets me apart from my opponents, who only came to Gaborone because of the University of Botswana.
Q. Some observers have predicted that that the opposition will win Gaborone Central in the upcoming general elections. What is your take?
Those observers and the opposition are daydreaming. BDP will emerge victorious in October. The opposition in Botswana is fragmented they are at each other’s throats.
Q. How do you see the BDP winning elections when a high number of Batswana are grappling with unemployment?
It is the wish of each politician to see their people gain employment and I sympathize with every Motswana who is not employed. Note that despite being advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to downsize the civil sector, the government did not heed that advice. I am happy about that because people remain employed. It is in the interest of the BDP to have Batswana employed.
Q. Let us assess your opponents within the BDP for the upcoming primary elections. How do you rate them?
My opponents are fellow democrats who have strengths that I don’t, we complement each other. Whoever wins on the 1st of March deserves to be supported by the losing candidates. The interests of the people must come first and I believe we will work harmoniously for the common good of the party as fellow democrats.