Veteran opposition politician, Richard Gudu, who is the chairman of the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) may no longer enjoy a free reign in the Tati West constituency in the 2019 general election.
Gudu has been unsuccessfully contesting the North-East constituency since 2004. In 2019, he represented the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) where he got 3506 votes losing to Biggie Butale of the BDP who garnered 4510. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was voted by 1671 while an independent candidate picked 819 votes.
“I am contesting the primaries because, if you look at where the constituency is coming from, we need a paradigm shift. We need representatives who understand the current dynamics, somebody who understands how the new generation thinks,” said Mbaakanyi Lenyatso without explaining further. Lenyatso, who is the vice president of the BPP, is disappointed with the representation the constituency has had in the past.
Nor is he happy with the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Biggie Butale, whom he supported for the 2014 general election. “The constituency has never had proper representation. I supported Butale in the last election but am disappointed that he is almost silent on the many ailments that beset his voters,” said Lenyatso who is confident to win both the BPP primaries and the general election.
“I have my strategies in place and my campaign is going to be issue-based,” said Lenyatso. If elected, Lenyatso will advocate for the recognition of minority cultures and languages. “I will also advocate for the empowerment of ordinary people. Government must buy the produce of subsistence farmers here to help them improve their lives,” he said.
Lenyatso believes that some of the country’s woes such as inequality, poverty and unemployment can be addressed by revolutionising the agricultural sector. “One of the things I will do if elected is to advocate for irrigation farming. Diamonds have benefitted and continue to benefit only a few people while the majority of the citizenry wallow in poverty,” stated Lenyatso.
When challenged to explain how his approach on tribal equality will be different from that of former BPP MP Kenneth Nkhwa and the other doyens of BPP politics such as Knight Maripe, Motlatsi Molapise and Richard Gudu who have belaboured it for ages, he indicated that his strength is the zeal and commitment he has for the issue. “I have been a prominent organiser of the Domboshaba cultural activities,” he noted. Lenyatso agrees that the BDP talks about citizen economic empowerment but argues that it is just lip service.
“They say a lot about economic empowerment but it is all lip service. They do not implement heir own policies,” explained Lenyatso who however did not say how he will compel the BDP to implement the empowerment policies they have been selling. Lenyatso believes that development should be driven by the people themselves. “If elected, I will have committees throughout the constituency to identify development gaps and come up with solutions. Part of the taxes we pay will go to the committees so that they have a budget to finance their development agenda,” he said.
The parliamentary aspirant is concerned that the people of Tati West have got no land to cultivate as well as pasture their cattle. Lenyatso’s indigenous policy will not allow foreigners to own land in Botswana. “They must lease land from the locals,” said Lenyatso who believes that the decision on how much workers are paid should depend on how much money the company is generating. It should not be an arbitrary decision.
“It is not enough for workers to be wage earners. Over and above their wages, part of the revenue produced by the company must go to the workers,” said Lenyatso who doubts the BDP-run government’s commitment to beneficiation. His feels BDP will not follow through its electoral promises “...because it is a party of gifts and propaganda.” Lenyatso wants a localised curriculum where the learners are taught about their environment and what resources are available in their locality as well as how to exploit and benefit from them.
For his part, Tshepo Makani, confirmed his interest in the constituency. “I can confirm that indeed I would like to contest the election here in the 2019 general election. I had hoped that Gudu would not contest this time around but I understand he is contesting. I intend to meet him to confirm his I will give him my full support,” said the Kalakamati-born businessman who is based in Gaborone.
Gudu himself is aware that there might be challengers. “I can confirm that I am aware that some party members want to contest the constituency and I have got no problem with that,” said Gudu who indicated that indeed he was contesting the constituency once again. Gudu is confident that this time around, especially with the support of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), he will beat the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate.