Maverick throws spanner in the works at Kgatleng West
It looks like there will be fireworks in Kgatleng West Constituency at the 2019 general elections with former newspaper editor, Batlhalefi Leagajang throwing a spanner in the works by declaring his interest in contesting for the Parliamentary seat.
Initially, speculation was rife that a compromise within the BDP had been reached for Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Unity Dow to give way to Mmusi Kgafela, the younger brother to Kgafela Kgafela the paramount chief of the Bakgatla, in a desperate bid to snatch the constituency away from the opposition.
The constituency is currently under Gilbert Mangole of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
In this week’s interview with Voice Assignment Editor, Daniel Chida, the opinionated Leagajang however says there is no such compromise and he has indeed alerted the royal brother (Mmusi) that he is very much in the running.
Q. We have been informed of your intentions to contest for elections in Kgatleng West under the BDP ticket – can you confirm this?
A. It is true – when the party invites those wishing to stand for elections, I will submit my name. It is an ambition that I have harboured since childhood.
My mother was a councillor and I used to go to BDP rallies with her and when I turned 18, she gave me a life BDP membership card.
Although at some point I fell in love with BNF ideologies, I never left my party. Serving my people as an MP would be the fulfilment of a childhood dream.
Q. Not to undermine you, but you are not that well-known in politics. Where did you get the courage to face big names like Mmusi who is from the royal house and the politically seasoned incumbent, Gilbert Mangole?
A. Mochudi West is my home and I know the challenges that we face in the Kgatleng West constituency.
I was part of the Madibelankwe regiment and I work with the community.
I am always hands on with whatever is happening in our area.
Regarding competition from Mmusi, yes he is from the royal house and I respect Magosi (Chiefs).
But you have to take into consideration that he is new to politics and besides, I believe that Magosi should stick to Bogosi.
I am on good terms with him and in fact I have already informed him about my intentions to challenge him and he gave me his blessings just like Mangole did.
I respect Mangole but truth be told, he has failed us.
He channelled most of his energy into fighting Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) internal wars instead of developing the constituency.
He has been missing in action!
Q. Which areas do you think Mangole has failed the constituency the most?
A. He failed to mitigate on the on-going standoff between our Chief, Kgosikgolo Kgafela and the government.
As an MP he was supposed to advice government where he thinks they were wrong or harsh concerning the so called de-recognition of the Kgosikgolo and at the same time engage our Kgosikgolo on the matter.
There is need for compromise because we cannot let the issue to go on like that.
The tribe needs its Kgosikgolo back from South Africa where he has exiled himself.
This sensitive issue needs somebody who can adopt a sober and neutral position.
A lot has been at a standstill and I know there are instances where justice should have been long tempered with mercy.
The MP should have adopted a neutral position and offered himself to act as a mediator between government and morafe.
He should have won the confidence and trust of the two warring parties and not try to score political points.
Q. Do you think you have the guts and the political clout to face your Kgosikgolo?
A. If you want to approach Kgafela, he has to know your agenda.
You have to be open and clear because he hates lies.
And going back to your question, yes I think I’m well placed to meet the kgosikgolo and to mediate between him and government for an outcome that would benefit both parties.
I know in this issue there are certain areas where the government was wrong and that is why I say a compromise is needed.
Q. You sound determined, what is it that you have for the constituency?
A. My biggest interest is the people’s welfare.
I will keep on engaging them, and consulting with them. You cannot take decisions for the people without their input.
We have a high rate of youth unemployment in Kgatleng although we have a valuable resource like land in abundance.
I have a vision to bring young people together to form companies and engage in cluster farming.
There is Pilane Industrial area where youths can have businesses because there is plenty of land there.
There has to be a quota land allocation system for us. Bakgatla must be allocated land within Kgatleng.
There is a mall in Mochudi that has been collecting dust because it was wrongly built, we cannot ignore it, a solution is needed and I would intervene if I were to be voted into power.
Q. What more do you want done?
A. Our constitution is archaic and needs to be reviewed.
It has served us but it is time we have a re-look at it.
We have to embark on a countrywide consultation with Batswana first because I suspect they share my sentiments that it is time to review this constitution.
Q. You will be taking part in elections and obviously you have your views on Electronic Voting Machine, please share.
A. Look, our people are clearly against the EVM. I share the people’s sentiments.
What would be wrong with using a machine that has a paper trail? We must not take people for granted and force something that they don’t want down their throats.
EVM is good because it fast tracks the election process but we have to bring a machine that can be trusted by Batswana.
Q. How are you going to help fight corruption looking at its links to your party?
A. Corrupt people should be prosecuted and I know that those who are doing it are not doing it for the good of the party but for personal gain.
Q. Then the big challenge for you it seems will be Opposition Unity – are you well prepared to face it?
A. On paper it is a threat but in reality there is nothing to fear. They seem to be unable to find a way to solve their issues.
There are issues of indiscipline and instability within their movement and I do not believe that they will go to the 2019 elections as a united force.
Stability is what Batswana need and that is the last thing the united opposition can claim to offer.
There is still no alternative to the BDP.
Q. With the way you are outspoken, do you think you would last at the BDP, which has a reputation for intolerance for inner party democracy?
A. I am a maverick and do speak my mind.
If I will be forced to choose between my party and my people then I will chose my people.
I am a Mokgatla and we are open-minded people by nature.
The reason why the BDP lost Kgatleng constituencies is because the people are not happy with government and they decided to punish the BDP for that.
Kgatleng has been a BDP strong hold and I will bring it back home.