Suspended BDP youth leader and radio personality speaks
An outspoken former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth leader and radio personality, Chillyboy Rakgare has been dealt a double blow with suspensions from both his party and at work.
He was suspended for 14 days from Duma fm pending investigations over an internal matter and for 60 days from the BDP pending a hearing at a date yet to be communicated to him.
Chillyboy’s suspension came a day after the youth wing Chairperson, Andy Boatile wrote a recommendation letter to President Khama to fire the young turk over facebook comments. In an exclusive interview at his house in Block 7, the young politician who refuses to be muzzled was as defiant and as vocal as ever despite his seemingly bleak future.
Q. You were suspended from the party and work last week Thursday, how does it feel?
I am home but I am a very busy man. There are a lot of things I am involved in. These two suspensions gave me a break to reflect on my life and map a way forward.
Actually I think it is a blessing in disguise. Whether I stay in the party after the hearing or not will be up to the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
The committee will definitely decide whether I should remain in the party or not.
They can decide to apply to the President to dismiss me. The same applies to my job, the management can decide to retain or dismiss me from work.
Their decisions are beyond my control.
My political future is one of the concerns that have been occupying my mind but I have not come to any decision of what I would do should I be expelled yet. I will wait for the verdict of the two different committees and then I will decide on the way forward.
Q. Why were you suspended from work and what does the two suspensions mean to you?
To be honest with you, I don’t know. Although I don’t wish to discuss the suspension from my job, it came as a surprise.
Coincidentally after receiving a call from my station manager, 15 minutes later, I received a call from BDP office. That was on a Thursday afternoon (last week).
Remember you and I spoke on Wednesday night? The following day around 14:30, the station manager called me and told me that I have been suspended for 14 days.
So, like I said the Duma f.m suspension came as a surprise. Duma f.m is my employer, the BDP is not my employer.
I have a family to feed and I get the money from Duma f.m. The two are are not one and the same entity but thats how the events leading to my suspension played out.
Q. In our interview last week, you said you do no live by handouts from the BDP. Don’t you may have bitten the hand that feeds?
Not at all. Let me be very clear. Everything I have in life, the furniture that you see in this house, my car, I have worked hard for.
All these things did not come cheap and they were not sponsored by the BDP. So I don’t need the BDP to survive.
Like I mentioned last week, I don’t need the BDP to make money. People are not the same in terms of upbringing and background.
I come from a very poor family and to me owning a car and being able to invest in a certain policy at the end of a month and having a savings account is just a cherry on top.
I was not born in a home where money was abundant and we had everything. I believe in hard work not handouts.
Q. You left BNF because you said there was a lot of backstabbing. Now that you have been suspended from the BDP following a recommendation from the youth wing Chairperson that you be expelled, don’t you think you ran into the same problem that you were trying to escape from the BNF?
Let me give you my background because I think it is very important. My mother, Masego, her dad and some members of the family were hardcore BNF.
My grandmother (mom’s mom) on the other side was hardcore BDP. I come from a home of political party supporters.
My family was divided along political lines.
Now, my mom taught me to appreciate everything that life has to offer and that is why I appreciate what our BDP elders have done for this country.
You go to some of the neighbouring countries, in terms of infrastructural development, there is nothing!
When I grew up I had a soft spot for the BDP because sometimes I felt it was being attacked unnecessarily. I did not have access to information then. During my University days I felt that the student’s strike of 2009 was justified. I got involved with the BNF.
Along the way there was a lot of backstabbing. I had a short stay at the BNF. The BDP is different.
Q. How different?
They are two different entities. Yes there is backstabbing in the BNF, but in the BDP there is a lot of patronage and bootlicking.
I think it is because there is a lot at stake within the BDP. If Francinah is the President, I have to try by all means to impress Francinah so that I can get favours.
When you are a Member of Parliament, I have to try by all means to be close to you because I have interests in your constituency.
In the BNF there are people who challenge the leadership and that is healthy for a functioning Democracy.
We need people to keep leadership on their toes so that there would be balance and checks. Young people are suffering.
They don’t have jobs and the market is saturated. The education system should be tailor made to produce entrepreneurs.
If we want investment we should train our people on customers service. We should check where we are lacking as a nation and invest in that.
In the state of the nation address our President always talks of zero tolerance for corruption and then he sits back and does nothing about rampant corruption in this country.
Yes he says talks tough about corruption but he still leaves the likes of Ndelu whose wife was getting tenders from his Ministry, Degraaf who failed the BMC, Seakgosing when there is shortage of medicine in hospitals and clinics and Mokaila who goes about sleeping with young girls.
Our integrity as a party has gone down because of characters like these.
The President’s popularity is diminishing and it is because of the people he is surrounding himself with.
Our President wants to retain many of his MPs.
He does not want young people in. He should be able to go to the University of Botswana and engage young people instead of addressing Kgotla meetings during working hours and in rural areas where the uneducated and unemployed have lost all hope and are all pining their hopes on him as some sort of a messiah.
He should be able to address the public servants and give them hope. That is what Obama does.
Even the uneducated Zuma stands in Parliament and fields questions from his MPs because he knows he is accountable to the people.
Why can’t our president do the same?
Q. You were accused of dragging the BDP especially the President’s name in the mud and Boatile used that against you in the letter he wrote to the President.
The poor child will do whatever it takes to impress the party elders.
When I received the text messages last week, I wasn’t surprised because even during the campaign, a few weeks leading to Sefhare (youth congress) he relied too much on the elders for support and funding.
My facebook page is my platform where I interact with my friends.
I mean where does he expect us to interact?
They are my friends and the ones with access to the shared messages.
Q. Are you still friends with Khama? I am told you used to be friends until you started openly attacking his programmes on facebook and radio.
President Khama is friends with everyone. He loves people. I don’t have a big surname but in 2010 I received a personal call from him inviting me to his office. We had a chat about sports.
Q. Did you discuss the constituency tournaments?
We did. In fact we discussed the constituency league the second time we met.
He offered a rare opportunity for someone like me to share the same platform with him. We discussed a lot of things.
What I like about the President is the energy and interests he has in sports. He wants it to develop to greater heights, but unfortunately, the way he wants to go about it is totally wrong.
He just does things with wrong people who mislead him and he also allows himself to be misled.
Contrary to those who say the constituency tournament is a good programme and the problem is implementation, I say no it is not.
It is useless because you cannot create something in your left hand, fund it and then create a simillar programme in your right hand to compete with it.
Q. I am told you are planning to contest for a Parliamentary seat in Thamaga. How true is that?
Let me tell you something about me.
I am one person who plans in life. I run a football tournament in Thamaga.
It would be running into its fifth year this coming December. You can check with Thamaga Police, and they will tell you that crime statistics goes down around that time of the year in Thamaga because it is not only players who go to the game, but the supporters and street vendors also gain from it.
It is because I did not wake up one morning and say, let’s play ball.
Now to answer your question, I will contest for Parliamentary elections in Thamaga, but I am not certain when that will be, whether it will be in 2014 or later I am not sure.
I believe we need a different approach to politics. The reasons why we sometimes fail to challenge the government, I am saying the government, not the BDP, is because we have retired civil service, they are tired and always sleeping in Parliament.
They are old. I don’t want to mention names but some of these guys cannot even walk and their logic is tired.
They can’t think. So we need a fresh approach to politics in this country and we need young people to take an active role in their country.
Unfortunately if you take a quick look at the former SRC (Student Representation Council) from the University of Botswana, most of its members are not active in politics.
But the University of Botswana is where the cream of the country’s educated are trained.
Q. Many people view you as very rude and arrogant. What do you say to that?
Of course we are different. We work for different organisations with different sets of rules and regulations. Some work for the Daily News, some work for The Voice like you.
Even in the sport I like so much, players are different, they react differently after scoring a goal. I don’t think it should be a problem.
If I am arrogant and rude then sue me! Am I the first person in Botswana to be arrogant? No. Even some of our leaders are arrogant.
One thing I like about your question is that you did not mention that I use vulgar language. I don’t use vulgar language and I like that about myself.
Truth is that one can be sued over insults, but I cannot be sued for being rude.
My former listenership from Yarona f.m, the station that made me who I am today, would confess a positive story about me.
Even my listenership at Duma f.m has expressed satisfaction with my talk show, so anyone is entitled to his or her opinion.
Q. What do you think is the BDP’s biggest weakness?
BDP’s biggest problem is fear. BDP members fear the leadership.
They kept quite when the President openly differed with Kentse Rammidi over the civil service matter at the Mahalapye congress and that was wrong.
The president is rumoured to be campaigning for his friend Duke Masilo and have pushed out Mmoloki Raletobana from Kweneng South East and that is wrong yet no one would dare tell him that. He is rumoured to be campaigning for another friend, Thapelo Olopeng in Tonota South and people are quite about it.
Well Pono Moatlhodi brought it on himself because he behaved like a puppet at times. He even knelt and rolled down before the President’s feet.
There is great fear within the BDP.
People fear to be sidelined when it comes to warding of government tenders and they look the other way when things are done wrong.
That is the problem with the BDP!