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Woman enters the Tati West constituency race for the first time since independence

FIRST FOR WOMEN: Ruth Mguni Nyathi
FIRST FOR WOMEN: Ruth Mguni Nyathi

Soft spoken Ruth Mguni-Nyathi is the first woman to enter the male dominated terrain of political tussle for Tati-West constituency.

Since independence no woman has dared to challenge for the parliamentary seat but Mguni-Nyathi tells MMIKA SOLOMON that she is ready to walk the length and breadth of Tati-West with her stilettos and let her woman power to lure voters to her side.

She says she will use her negotiating skills to win the coming primary elections slated for October/November this year.

You have been in the civil service for a long time, when did you join active politics?

I have always been a member of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), although I was a civil servant as a lecturer of Agriculture.

I then became active in politics in 2010 after my retirement in 2009.

What exactly do you want in Politics?

I want to advocate for my constituency, which is Tati West.

I was born and bred in that constituency in Jackalas Number 1.

I want to develop and empower people residing in my constituency.

All politicians want to represent people and advocate for change, is there any differentiating factor with you?

To be honest, when Rre Charles Tibone announced that he is quitting active politics, I thought I should try my luck.

Politics is my passion, I like helping people.

I am not into politics for money as I have my own business which is putting bread on my table.

So passion attracted you in-to politics?

My president Ian Khama has encouraged women in BDP to stand for leadership positions.

I am taking that challenge to stand for a parliamentary seat.

I have also been a treasure at Trainers Allied Workers Union (TAWU) I have been a unionist during my time as a government employee.

You have been active in organizing workers to go against the government?

Not exactly! Unions are organizations that represent the interest of its members.

Contrary to popular believe, unions do not exist to destabilise the government.

Rather the government needs them to understand the needs of the workers.

As a Union leader you organized strikes against the government and now you want people to vote for you. Why?

Of course there were strikes. But I never took part in the strike because I do not believe in industrial strikes.

I believe in engaging in meaningful discussions with the employer. Besides, not every employee agreed with the strike.

So you went against the majority, of which you were a leader, how are people of Tati West supposed to trust you?

Please stop putting me on the spot. At the time I was a worker doing what was supposed to be done .

Now I am into politics, I will do what is expected of a politician. That is fair representation of the people.

What skills are you bringing into politics?

I have good negotiating skills, I am also a patient person, who is able to listen to people’s problems and attend to them.

Hence, I believe in the BDP system of governance.

I am a leader, where I worked I was head of Department at Tlokweng Teaching College.

Those leadership skills did not come in handy when you were sidelined by the BDP system when it came to salary adjustment of yourself, where were they?

BDP system did not fail me. There is a thin line between BDP and government.

Government employees (some) failed to adjust my salary scale.

There was no need for me to use leadership skills, it was an obvious case.

There are those government employees who do not do their work diligently, and you can’t blame the whole government system or BDP.

It is the individuals that failed me.

You regret having taken the issue to the office of the president.

Because, you were not helped by your own people, so this brings the question of trust in BDP led government.

I did not say I regret taking my issue to office of the president.Ruth

In fact I am glad that the office of the president did offer some help.

Because some people felt I was at the right scale. I am still pursuing the issue to date.

Should you be voted, what are you going to do for the people?

I will continue promoting government programmes that are already in place.

I will communicate with my constituents on any developments that might take place.

I am worried about the graveyards in my constituency. I will engage the unemployed youth to de-bush the graveyards.

As Agriculture trained person, I will share my expertise with women.

I will also help the youth to register businesses and train them on how to run them at no cost to them.

I want people of Tati West to be able to feed the whole nation as agriculture is the next big thing after diamonds.

I understand there are seven of you vying for Tati-West constituency…

I am the only woman contesting for the first time in the constituency.

I hold a Masters degree in Agricultural Science. I am told about 28 000 people live in the constituency.

As a woman I stand above all the men contesting because I am a woman. It is high time a woman represented the constituency.

I volunteered with the backing of some people that I should stand. I am also confident that I will win the constituency.

How are you conducting your campaign?

I do house to house campaign.

What do people say to you?

People tell me, that they need jobs for their children. Farmers are complaining that their cattle were killed, and they say they were never compensated.

This and many other issues I will address once I get to parliament.

Politicians often tell me that one needs loads of money to campaign. Are you financially alright?

I have savings from my pension. I have a company that I run, my family supports me as well.

Some of us like liquor and we will like to drink it without being regulated by your government.

Will you tell your president to relax the liquor trading hours?

For the record I do drink liquor, I drink red wine. My take on that is that there is a time for everything.

There is a time to sleep, time to work and to relax. People should drink at their own houses.

I am not going to tell my president to relax liquor trading hours. We can’t drink the whole day, can we?

Botswana has an unmarried President. Do you think we should have a married person as president?

Morally it is not wrong to have an unmarried person as president.

The constitution of Botswana is silent on who should be president married or not.

Having a family is not pre-requisite to lead Botswana.

Do you have ambitions to lead Botswana?

Yes. Ten years from now I will be interested in leading this country, by then I will be 66 years old.

There is a belief that during elections pregnant women are mutilated to give a politician power to enter the August house.

Have you already identified one for yourself?

My father is priest. I am a born again Christian although I don’t frequent the Church.

I am not going to kill anybody to win elections. I don’t believe in traditional doctors.

As a woman I don’t like that idea of killing other women for power.

It is wrong to do that, I wish politicians could desist from such evil acts.

The whole thing sounds so scary. I mean how do you even live with yourself knowing you killed a person for power?

I will not identify anybody I rather lose elections than to kill.