For some time now, Tebogo Toteng’s name has been the cause of discomfort for certain Botswana Democratic Party political leaders, particularly in Francistown West.
The 37-year-old Monarch native has been touted as a viable challenger to incumbent Ignatius Moswaane in the coming BDP Bulela Di tswe.
Although he has remained mum about his intentions, Toteng has created a buzz in Francistown and seems to be giving other potential candidates sleepless nights even though he has never come out into the open to declare his candidature.
Despite his reluctance to name the constituency he’s eyeing, young people around Monarch already refer to him as Honourable MP.
In this exclusive interview, Toteng fields questions from Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo, where, for the first time, he declares his intention to run for political office in 2019.
Q. Whenever the Francistown West Constituency is mentioned your name keeps cropping up. Are you challenging Moswaane in 2019?
It is not a secret that I’ve decided to stand for a parliamentary seat in 2019, but you see in the BDP there’s a way we do things.
It is still too early to state who I’ll be challenging but I’ve had meetings with elders and young people who have shown willingness to support my candidacy.
So to answer your question, I’ll be challenging anyone who’ll be standing.
It is important to also note that nobody will be standing as a Member of Parliament, we’ll be candidates in equal standing.
Q. When did you become active in politics?
I have always been a politician. I joined the BDP in 2000, and have been a member ever since.
I was introduced to student politics at the University of Botswana where at one point I was voted GS26 Secretary General and later its Chairperson.
In 2004 I was the lead campaigner for Margaret Nasha for the Gaborone Central, which unfortunately she lost to Dumelang Saleshando.
I’m a thoroughbred BDP activist and have defended the party on many platforms.
One such platform was formed after the split that saw the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
This was a high profile strategy forum made up of CEOs and colleagues such as Lesedi Dintwe and Phillip Molobe.
The split and the formation of BMD created so much noise and our duty was to come up with strategies to manage the situation and minimise damage.
Q. You’ve kept a low profile since your activism with GS26. Why didn’t you pursue politics immediately after graduating like most of your peers?
After graduation I decided to pursue a career in the private sector. I’ve always believed that politics is not a career but a privilege to serve the people.
My plan has always been to focus on personal development and my private life before I could make myself available for political office.
I believe the years I spent rising through the ranks at Metropolitan Botswana have helped me to grow and prepared me to serve with diligence.
The problem with politics today is that we have individuals who have turned it into a career.
Q. What prompted you to run in 2019?
The decision to run for political office did not come as an afterthought.
I had a well thought out plan, which I followed to the letter.
Like I said, first I decided to have a career, get married, which I did in December, and then avail myself for political office.
The strategy was put in motion in 2012 when I asked to be transferred to Francistown.
I felt my people were underrepresented – we are not using the legislative power to change the socio economic lives of the people on the ground.
I believe we can do better in the area of human development like we are currently doing in infrastructural development.
Q. What are you bringing to the table?
I’m passionate about education and its power to transform lives.
Not enough has been done to ensure that education is adequately resourced, especially at elementary level.
Overcrowding in classrooms, for instance, should never be allowed. We need to take better care of our teachers.
Most of the time when we talk about prize giving in schools the focus is on students, there’s very little or nothing for teachers, who are the custodians of education.
We need to come up with motivational Reward and Recognition programmes where excelling educators will be rewarded for their dedication to their job.
Through the help of the private sector, teachers could be awarded certificates, laptops and be appraised.
Q. What are your views on youth unemployment?
It is a concern but something that can be addressed. It is undisputed that we are producing a mismatched manpower.
We need to focus on vocational education, the same one preached by the late Patrick van Rensburg.
Giving young people money won’t make them entrepreneurs, we need to change our approach and inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship at a tender age.
Q. How much of threat is the opposition?
For as long as opposition parties are fragmented, they pose no credible threat to the BDP.
I’ve always wondered why individual brands within the Umbrella for Democratic Change supersede the will of the people.
This clearly shows that most opposition party leaders are self-serving.
People have been calling for a united opposition for over five decades, but still there’s no alternative because people are pursuing personal interests.
Q. Are you saying the BDP has nothing to worry about?
Not really. We have a lot to worry about now that we are the people’s only hope.
We need to evolve because we are facing a more complex voter.
The biggest threat for the party is the dysfunctional economy, which seems to be doing well at the top and failing to trickle down to the ordinary man on the ground.
The party must make it a priority that the success visible at the top is also enjoyed by the ordinary man in Monarch.
Q. Any last message to potential voters?
Your vote is important. You need to vote for leaders who will ensure that our children will find a better Botswana and a better Francistown.
This is a time for the party’s young generation to take over and move the country and party forward.
Vote wisely because your vote is your voice.