Hardly two months old in parliament, the Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Dr Habaudi Hubona, has contributed to the debate on the budget speech where she also raised one of her pet topics, namely, women empowerment. A medical doctor by profession, she has also contributed on health and education issues.
While new Members of Parliament have been guilty of slips such as ‘Mr Chairman’ when addressing the Speaker of the National Assembly, or more humorously, ‘Mr Speaker sir’ in reference to the current Speaker who is a woman, Hubona has hit the ground running. Besides highlighting the poverty and squalor that defines her constituency, she has drawn the attention of the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources to complaints by residents of Phase six in the Monarch location in Francistown whose houses have developed cracks on account of a quarry blasting company located close to the residential area.
Whether she was forced by the need to make an impression as quickly as possible before the general election in October, a mere nine months away or encouraged by the positive reception she got from women MPs from across the political divide to hit the ground running is not clear. A long time political associate, Itani Molefe, however proffers an explanation. “She is a strong believer in social justice. Her presence of mind and mental strength enabled her to debate with ease in parliament even though she was new,” he said.
For her part, Hubona attributes her quick response to her knowledge of the country’s needs. “I have been in politics for a long time. More importantly, I have worked as a senior manager at government. So one is aware of the country’s developmental issues hence there was no need to rehearse as it were,” she reasoned.
At the peak of her career with government, Hubona, now running a private clinic in Francistown, became the founding superintendent of the Nyangabwe Hospital in Francistown.
Concerning the good reception in parliament, Hubona remains disappointed that President Ian Khama boycotted her swearing in. “Indeed I was humbled by the reception from women MPs from the BDP. The welcome impressed me as genuine. I however had a rude awakening when their leader snubbed me. As Head of State, Khama should rise above narrow partisanship and look at the country. Patriotism dictates that he looks at my winning as something positive for the country’s effort to effect gender equality,’’ said Hubona who is the only female legislature from the opposition ranks.
Hubona sees Khama’s boycotting of her swearing in as a clear indication of lack of political commitment to woman empowerment in Botswana but the fighter in her will not give up, “It has to be fought for,” she thundered when asked whether she hoped to see its fruition in her lifetime.
Asked what she thought about the quality of debate in parliament, Hubona said that the debate could be of better quality if only people were not encumbered by rabid partisanship. ‘’This has got the potential to kill the country, “she lamented.
Although unfazed, should she lose, she will be one of the shortest serving Members of Parliament in the history of the country. “Whatever happens, I would like to be remembered for the revival of Francistown especially my constituency. Because of several factors including the fact that the majority of families here are female-led, poverty is palpable. I intend to drive job creation here by attracting investment to the town and, by extending, the constituency,” declared a determined Hubona. Also a firm believer in cultural identity, Hubona is no doubt going to add her voice to those MPs who have been calling for tribal equality in the country.