Not many knew about Gape Thatayaone Motswaledi until after the death of his much loved older brother, Gomolemo.
Four years on from the fateful day and Motswaledi has since emerged into the spotlight. At next year’s general elections he will stand as the Alliance for Progressives’ (AP) parliamentary candidate for Palapye constituency.
The Voice Assignment Editor, DANIEL CHIDA caught up with the well-spoken Letswapo Regional Chairperson to find out more about his political ambitions.
How did you end up at AP?
There are so many things that people think go without saying when it comes to my affiliation.
I have never been a member of any political party before AP, partly because I was a public servant but mainly, because I had a belief that political parties affiliates had a gang mentality – a tendency to be partial beyond the limits of reason, an inclination to make up one’s mind before they even confront a situation or issue.
There were individuals in politics that I supported openly and profoundly on account of the semblance of objectivity they exuded.
I started off as a unionist with BTU (Botswana Teacher’s Union) in 1999 as a BTU shop steward to being a member of the BTU National Education Committee.
When AP was formed and vehemently talked about investing in human capital, I knew instantly that I found a party that resonated well with my vision and briefly, that’s how I ended up with AP.
You are an AP parliamentary candidate, how did that happen?
I had a burning inside me to express myself. I had to disembark from my earlier position that political parties hindered objectivity.
I had to accommodate the fact that parties are made up of individuals, some of whom may be predisposed to taking things a bit out of proportion as a character deficiency and not necessarily that of the party.
That there are many such characters affiliated to political parties should not engender an error of attribution but we should be objective in addressing issues of intolerance, denial and cult leadership.
I still believe there are many out there whose expressions have resisted categorization and cannot be packed to fit into political parties.
The time has come for our country to listen to such voices and if such people have to stand for elections as independent candidates, they must be considered on the basis of their abilities and what they advocate for.
And here, I’m not referring to those who have fall-outs with their parties just because they lost primary elections.
It’s about time our council chambers and parliament have about a quarter to a third of very capable independent candidates.
I have a very strong historical relation with Palapye. My paternal grandparents, my father’s siblings, children and grandchildren stay in Palapye.
We could never pass Palapye without checking on these relatives and I developed a spiritual connection with the place.
In 2001, after being posted to Central Region, I was confronted with a choice to go to Madiba SS, Shoshong SS, Swaneng HS or Lotsane since Physics was grossly under-staffed in those schools.
I pushed to go to Lotsane Senior School because of my connection with Palapye.
I also wanted a constituency where my name would be synonymous with what I stand for as an individual.
I led a karate club there, I mentored musicians and other performing artists there, I conducted institution-based and community-based choirs there, I taught there, my investments and business interests are there, my family is there!
I mean there is so much that connects me with the place and I know they need my voice as their representative.
Some say you are riding on your late brother’s work, what can you say about that?
People choose how they identify you. I have nothing against those who decide to link what I do with my late brother so long as it is not with an intention to diminish my achievements.
I have academic and non-academic achievements that required my head.
I have also learnt to admit that people’s perceptions are their truths, if they do not tarnish you, just let them be.
One thing I am grateful for is that I had a brother who knew how to play fair and make a good name.
He was always grateful that we had parents who played fair and made a good name.
The anointing is in the family I guess!
UDC is where it is because of sympathy vote for your brother’s death. How do you feel now that you are not part of it?
That’s a very loaded question and there are several things I’m obliged to disambiguate in respect of UDC’s electoral achievements.
I have gone on record stating that in 2014, three very weak parties banded together to achieve what transcended their individual abilities.
Even people who always feel that their aspirations and interests are never fully encapsulated within the policies of individual parties found abode and solace in the then UDC.
Attributing UDC success then to my brother’s death sanitizes the filth that Batswana were subjected to at the hands of the ruling party and hence an inherent need for an alternative.
The allusion to my brother’s death as a main factor is also an implicit acknowledgment of his massive political gravitas.
Many have passed on but their deaths were never factors for neither loss nor gain.
That could be extended to mean that he was pressed down in preference to political pigmies, an error from which we should learn as a country.
For the benefit of the country, people should be allowed to rise to where they are capacitated to operate.
What about the party he formed, the BMD?
All I can say is I am grateful not to be a member of either BMD or UDC for now.
That’s because I believe they are victims of their own political correctness.
Play fair all the time and things will go right for you – in every professional there is a quack, in the prudent there is foolishness and men of peace are men of war!
What do you want done in Palapye?
I will answer that in one sentence: restoration of the values that saw Palapye blossom into a big village with an enviable spirit.
I am the only one advocating for the restoration of the Palapye spirit, where men and women of diverse interests and aspirations, coming from different locations with different cultures, came together to synergistically and interdependently erect what in the right hands would blossom into the most enviable town.
Lastly, your brother’s investigation report is not yet out, how do you feel about it?
I waited for the report no more or less anxious than an ordinary Motswana.
If the family had wanted to carry out such investigations, we would have but we were alive to the fact that such action would not restore the life we lost.
At best, the investigations would bring closure to many who needed it.
I guess trust was squandered. I am not disappointed though, I am enlightened!