Woman of many parts

Portia Mlilo
COUNCILLOR: Motamma Horatius

From telly to Politics

Motamma Horatius is a former reality competition television series, Big Brother Africa- The Chase season 8, 2013 contestant.

The 33-year-old Serowe born queen became Miss Universe Botswana Finalist in 2012 and in the same year she won Miss World Tourism Botswana.

In 2016 she got honoured as Goodwill and Tourism Ambassador in Lagos, Nigeria and appointed to advice the governor of Kwara State on the tourism industry.

Apart from being a model, Horatius is also a songwriter and a singer having collaborated with artists like Mingo, Team Distant, Dj Gouveiya, Dj Kuchi and Angelo Collins from South Africa.

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She is also television and radio personality having worked at local radios stations and in SA.

In politics, she broke the record by becoming the first Female Youth Chairperson of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone Bonington North Constituency.

Honourable Horatius recently won the General Elections as a Councilor for Itumeleng Ward Block 3, Gaborone.

Our Reporter Portia Mlilo had a chat with this young politician about her political journey, the challenges she faced and her ambitions.

Q. When did you develop interest in joining politics?

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A. I have always loved politics from a young age.

I remember when I was 16, I wanted to vote and I was told that the legal age to vote was 18.

I decided not to apply for an Omang (ID card) because it did not make sense that we were not allowed to vote when we were eligible to get IDs.

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I only had Omang two years later when I went to tertiary institution because it was needed for me to enroll.

In 2009 I showed interest in standing for Botswana Democratic Party Primaries as Council Candidate but I decided to do home work first, getting to know people in my ward Block 3.

Q. How easy or difficult was it to join active politics?

A. I realised people in my ward did not know me so I embarked on a journey of building my name.

I am an academic so I decided to spread my wings and therefore I joined the creative industry.

I used my fame to uplift lives of my fellow young people when I was Miss Botswana and Posh Model.

It really helped because I was sharpening my public speaking skills.

I became Chairperson of Gaborone Bonington North Youth Committee for BDP.

I was the only female chair.

I joined the BDP Youth National Executive Committee that’s when I stood for Bulela Ditswe last year and won.

It was very tough, that is where my campaigning skills were honed. House –to- House campaign was not easy.

Opposition in the previous elections won the constituency so I had to convince people that I am the right candidate.

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Q. You managed to defeat four men you stood against in the general elections, what was your strategy?

A. Hard work. As a woman you just have to accept that even though we say we are equal or striving for equality truth of the matter is that we are not.

For you to be taken serious, you have to work harder go all out and not rely entirely on your campaign team.

At first people refused to open gates, they shunned us but I was very patient and persistent.

Some were saying I should buy them to vote for me and I told them if my opponents give them more they would go for them so I could not do that.

Q. Was there a point where you thought of giving up?

A. I always strive for positivity.

When I started this political journey I had a campaign team and along the way they changed and supported one of my opponents and de-campaigned me.

I think they doubted me because I was standing against two former councilors, the person I defeated during the primaries surfaced as an independent candidate.

It was really painful, I shed a tear.

When I won primaries I was pregnant and two weeks after giving birth my campaign team turned against me.

I was forced to hit the ground when my child was three weeks. My mother had to take my child to her house so that I could focus on the campaign.

It was really tough and that was my lowest point.

My male opponents were insulting and attacking.

Their campaign teams members came to harass and intimidate me at my house until I reported them to the police.

Thank God I managed to pull through.

Politics is not for the faint hearted and I think that is why women don’t make it.

My husband Thatayaone Horatius was always there for me. He is very supportive.

Q. What are the challenges of Itumeleng Ward that will be your priorities to solve?

A. There is poor drainage system so people experience floods during heavy rains so we need steep culverts.

Inner roads are also not tarred and in some streets there are no lights.

There are lots of youth who are unemployed and into substance abuse.

There is a lot of crime, burglary and car- break-in.

I am also part of neigbourhood watch so we decided to clear bushy 15 open spaces so that people can use them to start small businesses.

I went to council and they advised us not to erect a permanent structure and utilise the space.

Q. Any ambitions of becoming the city Mayor?

A. Hahaha (she laughs).

I was fighting to win on the 23rd of October but it appears my campaign was vigorous.

A lot of people got to recognise me even those not in my ward.

So I received a lot of congratulatory messages with a request to become a Mayor from some of new councilors.

Ok, why not give it a try?

With the energy I have, if that happens Gaborone will come to life.

With my international experience I believe it is high time the malls, shops operate 24/7 to create more jobs because people would be working on shifts.

I just hope other councilors will see my potential to trust me to lead the city.

Q. How did being part of Big Brother change your life?

A. It helped me to broaden my network base and Batswana started to know about me.

It really opened doors for me and it was the best platform locally and internationally.

During my campaign people remembered me from the television. I am really grateful for that.

Q. What advice can you give to young aspiring politicians?

A. Build yourself. Let us know who you are besides politics and have your own income so that you do not become captured by your financiers.

Have a thick skin because politicians when they get intimidated they forget about what they have done and they are supposed to do to serve the community’s interest.

Never lose focus no matter how much a person pokes you and never forget the people who put you there.

Be genuine, politics is a science, an art and it is also spiritual so people know when you are telling the truth and when you are lying.

Just tell the truth and you will make it, even without money.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. My maternal side of family women are leaders.

My Grandmother Gaonyafale Phuti was Bishop of St John in Mahalapye and she built the church and it went down to her children and grandchildren.

I also draw inspiration from other women in leadership positions like Sheila Tlou, First Lady Neo Masisi, my Member of Parliament Anna Mokgethi, Bogolo Kenewendo and others.

Nelson Mandela is also my inspiration, having been oppressed for 27 years and still found it in him to forgive those who wronged him.

I think that’s an amazing quality to have.

That is why I forgave those who turned against me during campaign.

My President Masisi, I really admire his emotional intelligence.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

A. It is going to be very hectic, I will be attending Mosadi Tia event and there is also Small Businesses event I have to attend.

After the elections I haven’t been feeling well and last week there were floods due to poor drainage system in my ward so I will be visiting affected families.

On Sunday I go to church.

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