Political Newbie, Jonathan Tshepang Sethono, of the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will be up against ‘goliath,’ in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party(BDP) candidate, Karabo Gare in the coming Parliamentary Moshupa-Manyana constituency bye-election, on June 15th, 2018.
Speaking to Francinah Baaitse- Mmana in an interview, Sethono, a retired educationist and former trade union activist said that opposition stands a chance to oust BDP from its stronghold.
Q: Mr Sethono you are a former BDP member who joined BMD 3 years ago, how prepared are you to wrestle the constituency from BDP?
A human being is a political being. Politics comes natural to me and I am confident of a win.
Gare is a new comer to politics just like me, but he is immature.
We are fully aware that we are up against Goliath, but just like David, we are not intimidated.
I have traversed the constituency and I know what the people want.
Q: What do they want?
Fair distribution of resources and infrastructure.
The constituents are not happy, some of them are being enticed with gifts and favours and Batswana generally prefer sitting on the fence for fear of losing such favours for fear of being denied handouts and food baskets.
Q: Talking of favours, how true is it that after showing interest in representing UDC, President Masisi offered you a job at the Ministry of Education?
It is not true, he never offered me a job. But what happened is that some BDP members made promises that they will offer me a good job if I gave up the constituency.
Q: Recently BNF and BMD were embroiled in a conflict over which party should contest in this area. Don’t you think this has a potential of spoiling your chances of victory?
Yes, we run a risk of splitting votes due to that strife.
Moshupa Manyana constituency was awarded to BMD from the onset, however in 2014 BMD did not have a candidate and therefore lent the constituency to BNF, but BNF was of the view that since their term has not come to an end,they should be allowed to contest the bye- election.
However the matter has been resolved as you see, I am the nominated candidate.Our focus at this point in time is to fight the BDP rule.
We are patriotic, so my expectation is that all UDC member parties will be united in this regard.
If they take any other route they will be committing political suicide.
Q. Do you truly believe that you have the support of all parties under the UDC?
Yes I believe we are united unless there are those working underground, submarines who may want to spoil our mission.
Even if we don’t emerge victorious our presence would have been felt.
Q: What are your strengths?
I am an educator by profession, but I was active in politics since my civil service days.
My strengths are in management. I am a team player especially at leadership level.
I talk a lot and naturally interact easily with everyone.
I understand the constituency. I am known in the constituency.
Q: Gare may have the advantage over you since the constituency is still celebrating Masisi’s ascension to Presidency. What is your take on that?
Yes, it is true that Bakgatla are celebrating Masisi’s presidency, but the mistake Masisi made was to endorse Gare and sideline others.
Since Masisi endorsed his favourite candidate (Gare) this has caused divisions within the ruling party.
We will surely take advantage of the disgruntlement when he is still busy making business plans for youths for free.
It is a tactic to buy voters ahead of the bye- election.Don’t be fooled by large numbers that voted for him during the primary election, that was a clear case of voter trafficking.
BDP’s numbers are from outside Moshupa.
Q: Is that so?
Manyana, Bikwe and Mogonye are where Masisi’s got good ballots but the lack of developments in these areas does not show that Masisi was grateful for these ballots.
Moshupa constituents in fact blame these wards for being responsible for Masisi’s victories.
Our constituency is starved of developments and these are the issues I would address in Parliament.
There is no denying that this is a BDP stronghold, but that does not mean we can fail to sway voters our way.
Q: What is your armour?
Masisi long promised that the road joining Moshupa and Manyana villages will be constructed in the last financial year, but he dropped a shocker recently when he told the people that the construction has been suspended due to financial constrains.
People are aggrieved that the P4 million awarded to constituencies have not benefited them much.
I intend to work closely with councillors and the Ministers to push forward district plans.
Besides, what is it that Gare can bring that Masisi was not able to do?