After 40 years in politics, Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East Botlogile Tshireletso will resign from active politics, she has told Botswana Guardian.
The plan, she says, is to consult her constituents and the entire democrats in May this year. Tshireletso says her journey in active politics has been a learning curve full of ups and downs. Perhaps her number one observation is that women are refusing to stand and campaign. She says women feel intimidated by men and are not courageous.
“Politics is not for the faint-hearted, and if you are not bold, you are going to quit prematurely,” she says. She says women list, among other issues, not understanding how to balance family with politics, handling the pressure of being insulted by other politicians, and the tendency where people dig others’ past to de-campaign them. She says women can be each other’s worst critics. “In politics, there is no respect. Whether you are young or old, they will bash you.
I have been condemned for my not-so-good English and not being an intellectual, but I stood firm and served my country,” she says. Her main worry, she explains, is that she does not see women coming forth from her constituency to stand in 2019. “When I joined politics at the age of 24, I knew what I was getting myself into,” she says, urging women in politics to grow a thick skin.
A free spirit, Tshireletso says that being in the executive committee has limited her from talking about ‘some issues’ that she believes must be challenged. “That’s where policies are made and one feels limited sometimes,” she says, without wanting to divulge much.
The MP has often caused mixed reactions over her sentiments that abortion should be legalised. While some people see the view as a welcome gesture for women that are not ready to be mothers, or those that did not plan on having more babies, others feel Tshireletso is encouraging murder and irresponsible behaviour.
But she has remained unfazed. “I find it pointless that a woman should be forced to keep a child she does not want, only for her to turn to unprofessional personnel for help or resort to throwing the child in dustbins immediately after birth.” She says should a legal clinic be made available, clients will be counselled and attended to by trained professionals.
Her next move
Tshireletso says that she wants to ‘relax outside politics’ while still in Botswana. She says that she will fully get engaged on her new foundation that aims at mentoring young men and women who want to venture into politics. Under this initiative, her mentees would get to appreciate that politics is not about money but national service. “A lot of them get frustrated along the way because they get broke.
Their expectation is that they will become rich and when it does not happen, they become bitter and miserable,” she says. Additionally, she will use her retirement to assist the vulnerable in the society. She is confident that she was born a leader. Meanwhile, Tshireletso is the president of Democracy and Human Right Committee of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU).