Amidst this week’s buzz about the resignation of Botsalo Ntuane from the Botswana Movement for Democracy(BMD) to rejoin the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP), Rasina Winfred Rasina, who had predicted Ntuane’s defection in an open letter to his now former VP not long ago speaks of the BMD’s trials, tribulations, betrayals and the future.
The political firebrand often labelled as radical also opens up about his loss at the recent BMD youth league congress in Selibi-Phikwe.
Q. You have long suspected that Ntuane would leave BMD and rejoin BDP. What made you suspect him so?
I am a political leader so I previewed the situation. I had to prepare the mindset of our followers to make them ready for such eventualities. I was taking a big risk when I talked about the possible defection of Botsalo Ntuane from the BMD. In my own loud character I refused to let this go because it is a sensitive matter but decided to raise it up for public discourse. Everyone was talking about it. You must understand that Botsalo is a friend to me. I have known him for years, more social than political. You can imagine me reaching that stage where I had to write him an open letter about my suspicions.
Q. I am told that you and your team lost the recent youth league elections because Ntuane was not on your side?
I don’t think Botsalo was on anybody’s side. I think people perceived him to be on a particular side and not to be on another side and understandably so because people thought I was a bit harsh on him when I wrote him an open letter. By releasing the document at a time when I was going for the youth elections, I knew it could harm my campaign. But I was not looking into the campaign. I was looking into the bigger picture, that is, BMD as an organization. The organisation is bigger than the campaign. The letter was used against me of course and people who had not even read the document accused me of insulting him. I did not insult him in any way. These things happen in politics.
But you kept referring to “bagolo” (elders) as being responsible for your loss.
In any organization you expect youth elections to be a youth affair, but there were allegations of elders involved and swindling the votes. We got worried about these things. It was an unfortunate thing, which we have raised in the party structure that as a new party we should guard against such things.
Q. The new BMD youth league is said to have been aligned to Ntuane. Now that he has left, are we not likely to see another mass resignation of youth league?
I don’t want to believe that the team that won the youth elections is or was aligned to Botsalo. I want to believe that it was aligned to BMD and I pray, I believe and have convinced myself that they would not necessarily follow Botsalo to BDP because some of them met Botsalo in the BMD. So really, they would not necessarily follow Botsalo to the BDP. It would not happen and it would be very unfortunate if it happened.
Q. When Barata-Phathi (BMD founders) left BDP, they blamed Khama for their troubles. Do you see his hand in Ntuane’s defection?
Khama’s fingerprints are all over the till. You cannot exclude him from a matter that involves Botsalo or that involves a high-ranking politician for that matter because you must be able to trace his fingerprints where they are involved. Khama is involved. He is safeguarding his own party against these politicians. But the problem with Ian Khama is that he holds grudges and I don’t think he has forgiven Botsalo. That Botsalo has found reconciliation with the BDP, I find it far fetched and I don’t see it possible because I don’t recall when in his political life, Khama has forgiven anyone and looked forward. I know his evil go back to staging something in the name of reconciliation so that his catch would be displayed for public relation purposes. After that he is done with them. Where is Jacob Nkate? Where is Oliphant Mfa? They are somewhere in the streets. I don’t want to see Botsalo in the streets. He is a brother and a Politician but I am afraid that is where he is headed.
Q. You once wrote an article titled “DK, a traitor and a vulture-all in one.” You suggested that Daniel Kwelagobe, BDP chairperson and Ponatshego Kedikilwe (PHK), former Chairperson who lost the seat to Khama at the Gantsi Congress, were expected to join BMD as soon after its registration. It has been two years now and they are still going strong in the BDP and PHK is a Minister. Were you suggesting that BMD was doomed right from the beginning when these top Politicians stayed with the BDP?
I must admit that it is high time we spoke the truth about these things. The first thing that Barata-Phathi did was in protection of DK. When you have been protecting people on matters that directly involve them and ultimately emerge issues that push you off the ship, you naturally expect them to jump ship with you. But they did not and chose to dance to the tune of Khama and Domkrag (BDP). I must admit to you that this whole thing began as a protection for DK and PHK. I don’t believe that these are the same BDP leaders we must face and contest in today’s political landscape!
Q. Are you suggesting that BMD was born out of anger and frustrations?
I want to say that you cannot rule out the frustrations, but it was not anger. It was frustration suffered over a long period of time. It had reached a point where it was no longer about the leadership. We had to scrutinize the policies, your belonging and the central committee of the day and wonder if you really belonged there. When you realized you did not belong, you moved.
Q. Now that the very founding members of BMD including the likes of Advocate Sidney Pilane, Guma Moyo and Botsalo Ntuane have gone back to BDP, what do you think of BMD’s future?
Well I wrote that letter to Botsalo and there is somewhere where I said to him that somebody that I did not even know wrote to me and said that we are playing with their minds. The person said that even if we defect, they would remain in the BMD. For some reason, that should say to everyone out there that this party does not belong to the founders, but the people. When I lost the youth election in Phikwe I had to sit down and introspect and I realized that the BMD has grown beyond us (founders).
Q. Talking of elections you remind me of the fact that you lost to Phenyo Segokgo, somebody less know than you. What happened?
Towards the elections, everyone was saying that I was going to sail through. But I told them that elections were difficult. People did ask me who Phenyo was, and I had to explain who he is and to a larger extent, that was part of his campaign. I campaigned for him in that regard. So I would admit, the letter I wrote to Ntuane did a great damage to my campaign. I knew that Botsalo was leaving but everybody did not believe and vowed to punish me through the ballot. It was painful because I knew someday I would be vindicated. So I lost elections because people felt I acted out of character and said things that were not supposed to be said.
Q. You are viewed as a radical Politician while on the other side Segokgo has maintained a more calm approach to Politics. Wouldn’t this difference draw the two of you further apart?
If I were calm, I would be BDP because that distinguished us from the BDP. BMD is a robust and vigorous organization. It is a revolution really. BMD was formed by people who were rebelling against the status quo. The Orange revolution brings in a generation of young people who are active and who cannot rebel with the BDP in a calm attitude. The calmness to me identifies with the BDP and says that you are comfortable with the status quo. Call me a radical or a militant that is fine with me.
Q. Tell us about the “super Sunday” meeting that you called after the loss. What was it all about?
It was a very interesting affair. When you go for elections you have running mates and our team was called Operation Tsaya Puso. After losing to the other team, we agreed to meet the next Sunday for introspection. We knew that the ultimate of whom we are or have become in the organization and how we relate with the organization as a collective from there would be stigma. So we had to agree on how to deal with the stigma within ourselves. Our detractors thought we intended to defect, but we wanted to soothe our souls, council one another on how to deal with the loss and accept the defeat. That is why it was called super Sunday. Any organization becomes vulnerable after elections and we did not want that to happen to ours hence we found it vital to meet and map a way forward.
Q. So the Commander of Political ground forces surrendered and that marked the end of Operation Tsaya Puso?
That marked the end of Operation Tsaya Puso because it was formed specifically for the Phikwe youth league elections. I remain the commander of Political ground Forces in my Party because I still have to mobilize people to take part in party activities and help it grow.
Q. Do you think BMD has a future? People have written its obituary and think it will soon be swallowed by other parties?
I think I appreciate their view in that the BMD has changed the political landscape. They even forget that it has only two years in existence. For some reason people are expecting magic out of BMD. Like I said before, the BMD is not about its leadership. It is about its followers. If a few leaders have defected it does not mean it is disintegrating. It is solidified in its foundation because the foundation is its members.
Q. You left your job at the British Council to focus on building the party. I understand the organization does not have money to pay you. Is it working for you?
At the beginning of the organization, it was at P0.00, so I refuse the definition that BMD is broke because it has never been rich. You see you become rich because you have had money. I joined the BMD knowing very well that it did not have money. I left my job to concentrate on this project and I am still concentrating and I am still going to concentrate on it. Like I mentioned in the previous interview, I depend of handouts from colleagues. BDP has all the monetary riches, but BMD is rich in mind and thinking. The primary focus in my life besides my family is to see to it that there is regime change in this country. So yes, it is working for me.
Q. What would be your response to people who say Motswaledi has gone back to his old job because he realize there is no future at BMD?
People are not being fair because Motswaledi was on Sabbatical leave and I quit mine. That is the difference between us. He went on leave to focus on BMD and now that it is stable, he went back to work. He would still find time to do his Party responsibilities.
Q. Tell me about Kabo Morwaeng. Has he resigned from BMD?
No he has not. He needed some time to focus on personal business and that is why we had to replace him with Rre Freddy Ramodise who is currently acting in Morwaeng’s behalf.
Q. Are we likely to see another defection from another BMD founder later on if he decide to move to BDP and if so wouldn’t this hurt BMD integrity even more?
Or maybe he would say that he is through with his personal business and back at the BMD. We would not make any noise about it. We would quietly give him back his responsibilities as the Organising secretary. I doubt Rre Morwaeng would join BDP. To me the BDP is the root of Satanism and is the pot of Satanism. I am saying so because BDP is the source of all the evil and trouble in the country.