Robert Molefhabangwe is one of the best orators in modern Botswana politics.
When he speaks, he oozes confidence and arrogance. Parables and riddles are usually an icing on the cake to his conversation.
Often he is mistaken for an elite, when in fact he is a humble man. MMIKA SOLOMON had a chat with him at a posh restaurant at the Central Business District.
Q. What are you doing at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) since you are a firm believer in leftist politics?
With what has been going on for so many years, people have been of the opinion that Botswana National Front (BNF) is a communist party and this believe is false as it was spread like veldt fire.
Therefore many people are aware that there is no philosophical and sociological proof; perception travels faster than facts.
Q. You lost me. What do you mean?
The nature and cause of the BNF struggle has never been identified with ideological struggle in support of any three schools of thought in the political arena.
Q. I still can’t get what you are saying. I asked what you are doing in the BDP when you are a leftist.
Being in the BNF did not mean I subscribed to their ideological belief.
That does not mean as a person I do not have any ideological inclination. I am not a scholar or an academic and I do not aspire to be one.
Q. You are speaking in tongues. Please unpack yourself.
As an individual I have a way of looking at things. I am not a follower of anybody in politics.
I make my own decisions looking at the way things are at that particular moment. I don’t even subscribe to the ideologies of the likes of Mao Tse-tung, Richard Nixon or any other philosophical leader.
Q. Exactly what did the BNF believe in?
The BNF is a non-aligned movement backing upon what they call a national project.
My principle is people is people first, and then me. I live for people and they live for me. I look at people’s individual needs irrespective of their lives.
Q. BDP is a capitalist party, you being a leftist how do you fit in?
I advocate for policy change in any platform. I approach the left best, BDP programmes can best be approached from the left.
Q. Do democrats really believe in your left approach when it comes to policies?
Being the leftist in the BDP, does not mean I am a threat to anybody. At BNF where I was, there are bourgeoisies. BNF is the worst of the lot. BNF right now is in the hands of Comrades not the masses.
Q. You are contesting for Gaborone Bonnington North as a parliamentary candidate, why this constituency?
In 1999 until 2004 I represented the whole of Gaborone West Constituency.
At the time Gaborone had a population of 186 000 people, my constituency had 101 000 people and the balance was shared by three remaining constituencies. I am not new in this constituency. My house is in this constituency.
Q. In other words you understand it better.
I am going into the BDP primary elections as a full-time member. Yes, I understand the constituency well. I am a hands on person.
I live with the people and I interact with them. I understand their needs and wants.
Q. What is the burning issue at the moment?
HIV/AIDS prevalence is very high and crime is also very high. During my ten year tenure at parliament I used to be hands on especially in fighting crime.
As for HIV/AIDS I fought tooth and nail for the government to provide ARV’s and education to the people regarding the scourge.
Q. As a former MP what kind of experience are you bringing to the constituents should you be voted in?
For the ten years I have been in parliament I sat in most parliament select committees because the law dictates that an opposition MP must be included.
At that time, the Leader of Opposition Dr Kenneth Koma could was blind. I was his right hand man.
As an intelligent person he had nominated me to act on his behalf. If you recall very well I was even sitting on the chair of Leader of Opposition.
Q. BDP is dubbed the party of milk and honey. What lured you into its fold?
Nobody in BDP has promised me anything when I was recruited to it.
Those opportunities which some say are there at the BDP, I do not see them. The BDP is just a party like any other. We are all fighting for the same cause. I still do what I used to do.
Q. …and that is?
I am fighting for the rights of the citizens of this country irrespective of their political inclination.
Q. Politics is a job for you?
Yes, politics is a vocation for me.
Q. Hence, you saw it wise to contest. What is wrong with the current candidate why don’t you leave him to go for the second term?
I don’t want people to get confused that I am contesting because someone is incompetent.
That will be unprofessional of me to discuss my colleagues in the media. I will rather praise them because we are from the same party. I believe in unity.
Q. What will be your priorities?
I gave HIV/AIDS prevalence priority the last time I was in parliament.
It even elevated my standing in the continent. I convinced the powers that be that traditional doctors should be brought to the table to fight the scourge.
NACA is where it is because of me. At that time HIV/ AIDS prevalence was at 37%.
It was just a matter of time for the statistics to decline. HIV/AIDS will be a priority.
I will also focus on crime prevention which is escalating in my constituency. I will also want Vision 2016 pillars achieved, especially the one on dignity.
Q. You seem to have the same vision with your colleagues. Why don’t you guys compromise on one candidate?
I am not going to turn myself into an arm-chair lest I turn into a political fly. As Robert, I believe in doing things right the first time.
I know certain people will vote for me to represent them, but I am not going to underestimate my opponents. They equally deserve to represent the people but let the best man win.
Q. While at BNF, you tabled motions that exposed the BDP government and its supporters.
You had an ulterior motive to destroy the BDP. Here you are praising it. What should the public make out of you?
Sir! My intention was never to destroy the BDP. I was advocating for the national principles of democracy.
My intention was to make people aware of problems they were facing as well as identifying the root cause.
I imparted knowledge on how such problems could be solved. If there is any party that needs to be killed is the BNF. The BNF does not have anyone who can kill the BDP. My business is to create confidence in the voter.
Q. While in parliament, you often bragged of doing a great job and the voters decided otherwise by voting you out. Where did you go wrong?
I did my job diligently without fear or favour. If there were enemies I couldn’t identify them then.
I haven’t changed I am still the same Robert. I am not going to do anyone a favour because they voted for me. I will continue to do what is best for this country.
Q. Good Luck.
Thank you very much.