Young, versatile, intelligent, charismatic and outspoken Francistown South Legislator Wynter Mmolotsi says the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is ready to wrestle power from the BDP in the next general elections.
In an interview with MMIKA SOLOMON he talks about his success as an MP and his vision for the country challenges of opposition politics.
Q. Why did you join politics?
I wanted to serve my people. When I was growing up I saw people suffering and as a result I wanted to better their lives. I believe I have something to offer.
Q. What is that something you are offering?
At least at the time when I joined politics, I was in the ruling party.
My thinking was that as a member of the ruling party it was going to be easy to advise the government, and I expected that government would listen to me to improve the lives of the people. Little did I know that the government thinks the status quo is ok, whilst I thought it was not.
I believe there is a need to improve the human capital and infrastructural development.
In my constituency Francistown South at least 60% of the people are poor.
Q. How are you addressing this problem of unemployment?
The most important thing is employment creation.
If people are not working we are sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode. People graduate with degrees into the streets.
There is a huge demand for employment across the country in all sectors.
For instance Economists predict that after 2015 diamond revenue will decline.
The President of this country is on record saying the future looks bleak, this means his government has no plans to revive the economy. His government is wasting money on programmes like Ipelegeng with a budget of P531 million.
The same money wasted on such projects could be channeled into creating at least two factories which can create permanent jobs unlike part-time jobs at Ipelegeng.
Q. What kind of factories are these?
It is simple we can use locally available resources like leather and Phane to create such factories. Mind you at least 65% of Ipelegeng workers are the youth.
Q. What have you achieved as an MP since you were voted into parliament?
I have achieved a lot. I pride myself as the MP who advocated for students who failed at tertiary institutions to be given a second chance. Government used to refuse to sponsor students who did not do well at tertiary institutions and I rectified that anomaly through a motion in parliament. I also tabled a motion that sought to regulate school fees of private schools.
The motion passed. I didn’t want a situation where children of the rich would be the only ones who can afford to attend private’s schools. Even the middle class families were beginning to feel the pinch.
I tried to engage parliament to approve a motion that seeks to give Batswana families who were selling liquor in their homes land. The motion did not pass.
I also tried to push for Citizen Economic Empowerment, Trade Minister asked the motion to be shelved as she was coming up with a similar proposal.
Q. Fair enough…
I have also asked 500 probing questions to all ministers.
This was done to trigger action.
History will also show you that I am the first MP to break the silence on issues affecting the armed forces.
The issue of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) tenders was raised by me.
It was evident that there was a lot of rot happening at the BDF.
Tenders were awarded to those who were close to the BDF commandant or associated with BDP at top level. Nobody was brave enough to talk about this anomaly at BDF but I did.
Q. What about in your constituency?
In my constituency I train the youth on how to access government programmes.
I hold workshops using my own personal resources. Unfortunately the approval for government’s funds is low.
Q. I am sure you have encountered some challenges, please share them with us.
A lot of people were dying in my constituency, and many of the families took two weeks to raise funds to bury their loved ones.
As a result I initiated a funeral programme scheme that benefitted my constituents through Funeral Service Group dubbed Francistown South Funeral Service.
I managed to register 3000 beneficiaries with my own money.
The joining fee is P20 for families and P12 for individuals. As a result people have stopped running to the loan sharks.
I am also negotiating for a medical aid scheme that can benefit my constituents.
In addition to that I have bought two vehicles with my own money to help in the constituency.
Q. Now let’s talk about the marriage that BMD has entered into with Botswana National Front (BNF) which some say is threatened by divorce. What exactly is happening?
The talk of divorce is only perpetrated by the likes of a certain Comrade Monang.
Otherwise our marriage with BNF is getting stronger by the day together with Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).
BNF is now stronger.
Nobody can break it. We have achieved a lot of progress so far through the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Constituencies have been allocated, we are at a stage where we want respective parties to hold primary elections in preparations for 2014 national elections. UDC is a force to reckon with in Botswana politics.
UDC is ready to win the next general elections because we have the numbers.
People are now educated when it comes to election issues.
They know that the current government is corrupt and does not care about its people.
Q. How so?
The President does not care about Botswana. He does not attend international meetings.
He does not foster relationships with other countries.
He only cares about distributing blankets to the poor.
We live in a global world. We need to interact with other countries that we can benefit from.
Right now his government has imposed a visa on Basarwa advocate and also denied him a visa citing security reasons. What is this country coming to?
This government is arrogant it does not want Basarwa to have a lawyer of their choice. This is unacceptable.
Basarwa chose Gordon Bennett as their lawyer, so be it. This government has now become a dictatorship state. It is not right at all.
Q. In your view what can be done?
Batswana should punish the ruling party in 2014 by voting the UDC into power. Otherwise if they don’t the high level of unemployment will increase.
The economy of the country will collapse. Nowadays the government is deporting investors every day. This is absurd.
Q. In other words you blame the system and you really want change.
What kind of change do you envisage?
The system of automatic succession of Vice President to President does not augur well for Botswana democracy.
The current president may appoint his relative to be the next Vice President who will later continue the trend.
Therefore, he will, by extension rule this country from outside because he would have put his preferred people that will protect his interests.
Automatic succession is dangerous in that it is predictable.
Just because your father was a president does not mean you are also entitled to be a president . This is not Chieftainship we talking about.
Q. BDP Chairman Samson Guma Moyo says his party will white wash the opposition in 2014.
Do you believehim?
We had intelligent presidents in the likes of Seretse Khama, Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae and they have never white washed the opposition. Rre Moyo must be checked if he is in his right senses.
As we speak BDP MPs do not take Moyo seriously because they believe he is a clown.
The chap is clearly speaking out of frustration. BDP MPs do not view him as a serious Chairman of the party.
To prove that he might not be alright upstairs, he spreads romours that I am an easy target. Who can be recruited by a clown like him?
Guma’s thinking is sickness as he does not even have a following within the BDP.
Q. When will you leave active politics?
I will retire from politics when all is well in Botswana. Today it is difficult to get a plot in Botswana.
The pride of Batswana should be restored.
Democracy must prevail. I want Batswana to enjoy freedom of speech. I want Basarwa to be free to choose their own lawyer just like the government does.
Q. Some school of thought says many MPs are illiterate and are unable to articulate issues adequately.
Isn’t it time a minimum educational requirement is introduced to aspiring legislators?
That is a brilliant school of thought.
That question needs to be put to Batswana through a referendum so that they can decide on the type of MPs they want.
Often times as MPs we lack basic understanding of what is presented before us in parliament.
We make laws in parliament and sometimes bills are passed based on lack of understanding.
Q. Your colleague MP Robert Masitara says some MPs are poor hence they are corrupt, do you agree with him?
Not entirely. Since there is no registration of assets, I can’t confidently say we are poor as MPs.
But to a large extent we are suffering as MPs.
We earn around P15 000 per month on average. We use the same salaries to cover our constituencies. In short politics makes one poor.
Q. So would you advocate for better wages for MPs?
I believe MPs should be remunerated better for them to perform in their respective constituencies.
We should not be seen dressed shabby as MPs. Of course some Mps are corrupt they enrich themselves through the office.
Q. Lastly what is your take on the Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS)?
I am worried by the DIS. The organization is doing things in secrecy and do not account to anyone.
They are responsible for all the deportations in this country.
They serve the interest of the BDP. Batswana who want to venture into security business can’t do that because it is now preserved for those who have worked in the armed forces courtesy of DIS.
They are scaring investors from investing in this country and this will cripple the economy.
However, as an organ it can be useful to the country if it was not used to protect the interest of BDP leadership.