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From unionist to active politics

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GO GETTER: Kekgonegile

 

Former BOFEPUSO Publicity secretary in the running for parliament on BCP ticket.

He is better known as the sharp talking Botswana Federation of Public Sector’s Publicity Secretary, but Goretetse Kekgonegile has quit his job to contest in the general elections as a BCP candidate for Maun East Constituency under the Botswana Congress Party.

The constituency is currently in the hands of Frank Ramsden of Botswana Democratic Party.

Voice Reporter Daniel Chida speaks to the man who was once in the fore front, advocating for the opposition unity.

Q: Before we start our readers would like to know you.

I was born and raised in Maun; I worked at North West Distinct Council as Principal Social Welfare officer.

I am better known as a Publicity Secretary for BOFEPUSO and being President of Botswana Land Boards, Local Authority and Health Workers Union.

I did resign from the public service in 2013.

Q: Why did you resign?

To join active politics after serious introspection on the direction that the government is taking in terms of governance and policies that are extremely destructive to the livelihoods of the people of Ngamiland where I originate.

I took a deliberate decision to quit the public service to represent the people for better lives.

Q: Why did you choose BCP?

BCP is a stable party with pro Batswana policies, visionary leadership and that is where I believe I can fit as a principled social entrepreneur.

Q: What do you mean by stable?

BCP is a party that is transparent, has integrity and makes decisions collectively.

It leaves no room and creates no loophole for dissent.

At the moment it has no bigger rings within itself.

Q: How long have you been a BCP member?

I have sympathised with BCP since 1998 but joined them in 2011 after the industrial strike.

Q: Is it true that you were an active member while still a civil servant?

I wouldn’t say I have been an active member because I didn’t address rallies and meetings.

I became active in 2013 after resigning.

Q: Since you claim to be a new member, how did you become the Party’s Parliamentary representative so soon?

There has been some discussions going on between me and the constituency after they realised that I was one of their members.

The discussions lead to my resignation from my job.

Q: You were based in Gaborone, why didn’t you contest there?

I was based in Maun as a social worker since 2007 and went to Gaborone on secondments to the trade union and after the secondment I had to come back to Maun where my post was.

I reside in Maun East and I gave preference to my people.

The challenges in Ngamiland are massive and needs quality, brave and someone familiar with government structures.

Q: We know BCP has a tendency of forcing candidates to contest in areas that they don’t want, is that not the case with you?

No not at all, it is me who chose where I want to stand, of course some comrades had expressed a wish for me to stand in Ngami where my parents originates, others wanted me in Gaborone Bonnington South but I chose to represent in Maun East.

The issue of BCP forcing people to stand somewhere else does not exist.

Q: But it’s there. Kekgonegile, Gaborone people know you, you advocated for workers rights, don’t you think you stood a better chance there than here?

My standing for elections is not opportunistic.

It is based on the principle of representing Batswana whom I feel are marginalised, disadvantaged and whose livelihoods are plagued by high level of poverty, not the people who are likely to vote for me.

I am not into representation for votes but to better the lives of Ngamiland community.

Q: But you have family to support, how will you survive in case you lose?

I quit public service at the upper middle management level where I was assured of a salary and job security, and went into politics to represent people.

The issue of how I will live is not the basis of my judgement of life but my principles are based on human equality and the future that will bring better lives to Batswana not to my life.

I did not join politics for a job but quit a job for politics so that my people can have a better representation which is lacking so far.

Q: What developments do you want to bring to Maun East?

The livelihood of the Maun East people relies heavily on the beef industry and the government of the day policies are killing the beef industry.

I have to be at the forefront to fight that. There is need of three more primary schools (Khwai, Sixaxa and Boseja South), three Junior Schools at Shorobe, Disana and Xhabara.

An additional Senior School in Maun is needed. Levels of unemployment amongst the youth is very high.

There is need of processing and manufacturing industries to curb that.

I will fight against removal of people from fertile land (Khwai, Sixaxa and Mababe) to pave way for Okavango Development Management Plan.

Poverty levels amidst the riches of the natural resources in the constituency is very high.

Natural based tourism must be used not only where we find wild animals but also where they are other natural resources to better lives.

There is no fair distribution of big projects in the country because projects earmarked for Ngamiland are taken elsewhere, the Pandamatenga farms, the road infrastructure in Borolong were earmarked for Ngamiland but because of poor representation they were taken somewhere else.

I will also fight for workers rights to the betterment of the economy.

Q: The current government has been crying about lack of funds.Where are you going to get those funds for your projects?

It is not an issue of lack of funds but unfair distribution of available funds.

For example when a less populated village like Serowe has seven junior schools while Maun has only four then you know there is a problem.

It’s an issue of biased resource distribution.

Q: What is it that you have done that can work to your advantage?

I am a social entrepreneur and politics is my passion.

I am standing against tenderpreneur who are not politicians.

My opponents are all about accumulating wealth not representing the people and I believe people will choose the person who will effectively represent them and that is me.

I have a history of representing as I did that, I fought for better working conditions and will continue to speak the language of workers.

Q: Maun East is a BDP strong hold how are you going to win voters?

We are selling BCP which has quality candidates and pro Maun East people policies and people are not going to judge us by party colours but on our quality representation and our policies.

I stand a better chance.

Q: You attended BDP’s Primary elections in your area, why?

We are not enemies and if there is an activity regardless of political affiliation, I had gone there to interact, observe and learn.

Q: Allegations of you having been assured of support by some losers then surfaced, can you explain that?

I have not been assured of any support by any loser of any political party and I don’t know what happens inside corridors of other political parties.

We are out to convince people to vote for us regardless of their political affiliation.

Q: One of the candidates has been organising ball tournaments in the constituency and helping the poor, how are you going to match that?

There is a difference between using people and wealth for political mileage and philanthropist, people need to understand that this issue is 2014 elections propaganda; they have to vote for a party with better sustainable policies that will go beyond 2014.

People must have dignity and be taught how to catch fish instead of giving them fish.

Q: So far what are the challenges in your campaign?

The constituency is huge we had hoped that there would demarcation to add a third constituency.

Funds will never be enough and you need to do much with the little you have.

Q: 2011 strike, do you still remember what your President Dumelang Saleshando said to workers regarding shunning parties outside umbrella?

I was not part of the audience that listened to his statement but I cannot deny it.

Q: But you did too advocate for umbrella, right?

Yes it was not my statement per say.

It was a resolution of the workers that to take BDP on opposition parties should unite.

For now I cannot account for Union’s resolution.

Q: What is your position on his words now?

Well had BCP been part of the Umbrella we could be talking a different language but the fact is BCP is not and we have to move away from that, we can no longer talk of the umbrella that we are not part of.

We must move on and look for the future on how to free Batswana.

Q: Do you see any of the opposition parties taking BDP down?

Opposition parties will make a great show but I see a hung Parliament.

It may also depend on how the olive hand extended between BCP and Umbrella will end.

Q: Is there a chance of BCP joining umbrella?

That is for the congress and leadership to answer, I am not a member of the central committee.

I don’t know the direction of the party now but the last resolution was that we go on our own.

Q: Do you still maintain that workers should not vote for any party that is not under umbrella?

I am in a different scenario now and I am bound by its resolutions and I don’t have independent resolutions as much you don’t know whether when I said that I had other opinions or not.

Q: Didn’t you take advantage of your position at Botswana Land Boards, Local Authority and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) to recruit members to BCP?

No not at all.

Q: What prohibited you to do that?

I am a very principled person and don’t believe in taking advantage of situations in a matter that disadvantages other people.

Thank you Sir.

You are welcome