“I once fell asleep in this woman’s arms,” says the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Environment, Kitso Mokaila pointing to one of the therapists at the official opening of the Mowana Safari Resort Spa in Kasane recently, “
“See you tomorrow madam so I can enjoy those magic hands one more time,’’ he adds much to the amusement of other guests who were already reeling in fits of laughter at his previous joke.
It was at this moment that the idea of interviewing the ‘charming and smooth talking’ minister as one woman later described him crossed my mind. I then made up my mind that I will take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere to have a one- on-one with the cabinet minister who is popular for his sense of humour and charm. The following day on a Saturday morning I made my way to the Spa to make a booking for a facial when I came face to face with my target. He was sitting on a couch clad in sports gear of shorts and a t-shirt in the company of two therapists awaiting his turn to be tantalized by ‘the magic hands.’
After he had turned tables on me, asking me various questions to justify the interview, he eventually agreed to open up and below is how the first part of the interview went. The second part was later on at the dinner table during what he called social intercourse with The Voice.
THE CHARISMATIC MINISTER
Where did your interest for politics come from?
For me it was a question of politics choosing me instead of the other way round. I never had an interest in politics until I was identified but the then MP for Barolong Ronald Sebego as one of his likely successors. He had infact identified five of us. I then started attending kgotla meetings and other BDP meetings and as fate would have it I was subsequently the one to succeed him.
What kind of a politician are you?
I am not your run of the mill politician who likes rallies and opening his mouth in parliament for the sake of being heard to be saying something. I don’t like rallies and rarely will you hear me speaking in parliament simply because I am not that type of a person who will talk only because they like the sound of their own voice. I only open my mouth when talking serious stuff. People in my constituency also now know that and have accepted that. I will not stand up in parliament to ask for a certain thing to be done especially developmental when I know pretty well that it is not part of the budget.
Are you enjoying life as a politician and for how are you going to be in this game?
I love serving my country so yes I am enjoying it, as for how I will continue being in politics ask me after 2014 after I would have won the elections. And please note that I am saying when I would have won and not if I win.
You are so confident of victory
Of course I am, there is still no alternative
Do you ever envisage a Botswana under a different ruling party?
If ever Batswana make the mistake of voting the BDP out they will quickly realize the grave mistake they would have made and make sure they don’t repeat the same mistake.
What are your political ambitions, do you wish to be Botswana’s president one day?
I am not after any office, if I happen to be chosen for any office then yes I will take it and serve my country.
You are regarded as one of President Khama’s closest ally, are you and are you related to him?
No we are not related, my father worked for his father and I happened to go to the same school with his younger brothers, that doesn’t make us relatives, does it?
But you are friends?
He is not my friend, he is my boss.
Ok, now lets talk a bit about your personal life, are you married?
Yes I am
Where is Mma Mokaila?
She’s overseas, together with the kids
Who do you stay with?
What makes you happy?
No one can make me happy except my self, If I am not happy nothing and no one will change that so I have to make sure I make myself happy.
With all due respect Minister, I wouldn’t have done justice to this interview if I don’t ask you this question, you are viewed as a ladies man or a womaniser, how would you respond to that?
(Laughs out loud and stands up) It’s now time for my massage so I am going
But at least respond or comment about this before you leave
(Sits down smiling) You see, people like creating perceptions about other people so if there are people out there who think I am a womanizer it’s fine, I will not lose sleep over perceptions and neither will I go out of my way to prove that I am not.
If you were an animal which one would you be and why?
I would be a cheetah but it has nothing to do with cheating (Laughs out loud again and stands up to leave). I am saying a cheetah because Cheetas can be calm when it has to and when it as to be aggressive it can really be vicious.
He goes for his massage and we meet again later during dinner. While passing by his table he calls me to say we need to continue and conclude the interview but that was after telling other people that I was asking him about his sex life and that he will tell me all I want to know. I show him where I am seated with the excitement of a tell -all interview with Mokaila and in a few minutes he joins me in what he calls social intercourse with The Voice.
Earlier you dismissed that you are ladies man but am sure something happened for people think like that about you
Ah! you, are still on that issue, I was joking that I would tell you all you need to know about my sex life, there is nothing to tell. Like I said before, it’s all about perceptions. You see it’s like what people think of President Khama, people think he is a dictator yet he is very far from being one. So really I can’t be bothered by perceptions.
By the way, how old are you sir?
How old do you think I am?
Maybe early 50s
Ya, you rite I am 54
Ok, ever since you joined cabinet you have always been the Tourism Minister, why do you think that’s the case?
I think it’s because of my character.
Please elaborate and tell us about your character
I am a very jovial man, difficult to offend and I never hold grudges and of course hard working. So I guess that’s why Rre Mogae and President Khama put me in this position, its needs a man of my character to run it and I think I am doing my best. What you also need to appreciate about my ministry is that it is very diverse, it has so many portfolios under it.
What do you love most about Botswana and being a Motswana?
I love the unity and peace that we have as a nation, nothing compares to our uniqueness. And as Batswana we are so sincere, very trustworthy by nature though sometimes it works against us. You see, as Batswana we always trust other people and rarely do we suspect them of any wrong doing.
When you are long gone , what do you want to be remembered for?
As the Minister of Tourism who gave direction to his ministry resulting in a huge increase of tourists arrivals. The figures speak for themselves and if we were in Gaborone I would show you what I am talking about. I also want to make sure that all departments in my ministry perform to the best of their abilities while under my leadership. And of course I want to be remembered for the positive differences I am making in my constituency.
What do you do during your spare time seeing that you are a lone man?
I love fitness so I train a lot, watch TV especially sports and I love Formula One. I also spend some time at my farm.
Favourite food and drink?
I eat anything and nothing specific for a drink. If you were asking about alcohol I don’t drink or smoke. I am a very sober man who always know what he is doing.
Three words that best describe you
Very very likeable