He is soft spoken, down to earth and easily approachable by people from all walks of life.
Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) deputy president Ndaba Gaolathe opens up in an interview with Daniel Chida about his future in politics.
Q. Ndaba welcome to our Political Speaking page, can you tell us how you landed in politics?
My interests have always been work around development, finance, economics and the building of institutions.
Consequently I found myself advising a few individuals in political and corporate leadership.
I didn’t imagine I would join politics as I have been quite happy with what I do outside the realm of politics.
However, the advisory roles allowed me to see some of what was happening in the country before other people did.
And I had to make a decision if it was the right thing for me to sit back, hope that I will be listened to or step forward and actively be part of shaping the destiny of our nation.
Q. You are deputy president of BMD. How did you get such a big post?
I am just as puzzled as you seem to be.
I suspect the right thing to do is to arrange to find out from the many ordinary members of our Movement who elected me to this position that you describe the way you do.
I did not choose Gaborone Bonnington South.
In fact I was not intending to run, and was gearing to assist the party as any active member would do. It is the people who invited me to consider representing them.
Q. Don’t you think there was going to be less work in selling you to the public at Tonota North (your late father Baledzi Gaolathe’s constituency) than here?
Tonota North is where my father had served as Member of Parliament.
At a time when so many of our people are weary of sons and daughters gaining unfair advantage as a result of their family standing, I have not been able to think of it as appropriate for me to run where my father was.
Go etelela batho ga se bogosi.
In any case I wouldn’t wish to feel at any stage of my own conscience that I am where I am purely based on the sympathy people may have for my father, and not on their own personal conviction that this boy could on his own merit, make some difference.
I am pleased that the people of Bonnington South will elect or not elect me based purely on their convictions about my party and me.
They will not bring my father into it, which is how I believe our democracy should work.
Q. How is the campaigning going?
We are doing our best every day.
Q. What is your strategy?
There is only one strategy – to be true, honest and to do my best.
Q. Without undermining BCP, you are competing against an incumbent in Botsalo Ntuane, how are you planning to unseat him?
My competitors, Mr Chengeta, Mr Ntuane, and their parties, the BCP and the BDP are strong.
I do not plan to “unseat” Mr Ntuane.
The seat will be vacant when parliament is dissolved, and the democratic idea is that the people must have alternatives, hopefully sound alternatives.
If the people believe I am a worthy alternative with the potential to help them realise their full potential as a people, they will make it known through the ballot box.
Similarly if they think Mr Chengeta or Mr Ntuane is their preferred candidate, they will make it known.
Q. Ntuane always pulls a large crowd assisted by a musical group named Splash it has worked for him in the past whilst at BDP and when he formed BMD. How are you going to beat on that?
I am not sure if it is fair to make the assertion that Mr Ntuane won purely based on the “Splash” invite.
My Bot, as I call him, is an able democrat who had stood up the unfair practices of the current regime.
The people rewarded him for his ability and courage by placing their trust in him, at the time.
My interest is not to “deal” with his or anyone’s “style”. My duty and responsibility to the people is to offer myself as alternative they can look to if they believe I am part of what they need to realise their full potential as a people.
Is he a serious competitor?
Mr Bot is always a serious and worthy competitor.
Q. Politics is very expensive and all the time Opposition Parties complain of lack of funds, BMD as a new kid in the game where are you going to get funds for the campaign?
Our party is struggling financially.
Our only hope is for ordinary people to donate whatever little they have. We also believe the will of our people is more important than financial resources
Q. Looking at your constituency what do you think needs to be done?
Our party’s priority is helping fix the education system and producing productive and responsible citizens.
If we cannot run Government, then we can work with teachers, schools and private sector to push for better incentives for teachers, and better infrastructure and facilities for students.
We also believe there are some basic infrastructure lapses in our constituency, especially in Bophirima and Morula many yards have no toilets, so we need to work on a comprehensive sewerage system, there are no street-lighting and no proper roads.
We have a proliferation of illegal liquor traders and struggling entrepreneurs.
We will work with them to build on a slow but sure alternative route to enhancing their work.
Many of our workers are struggling, some are exploited and others don’t know how to lift themselves to the next level.
We will work with the unions on this.
Better laws on restructuring the beef sector, improving the power sector, improving the availability of water to our people, infrastructure projects to employ our labour force at large scale, improve availability of medicines and how hospitals are run, ensuring the participation of citizens in the economy, laws to allow small entrepreneurs avenues for greater growth and success, and laws to temper the anarchy of the DIS and improve security of our people and many other laws to improve the security of our people.
Q. You held Youth workshops in the past, how was the response?
We have always done this even before I was in politics. The response is always positive, as people are hungry for personal growth.
Q. You also have this style of issuing flyers on intersections or traffic lights; do you think you are giving them to the right people?
That is only part of my interaction with the people.
We do try to visit as many homes as we can.
Q. Why can’t you do it within your constituency?
The traffic lights are within the constituency by the way.
And as I say, we are visiting as many homes as we can.
Q. You are one of the BMD members who were against the party joining UDC, how do you deal with people you didn’t want to work with?
My contention had been, at the time that we were in an untamed hurry to work with everyone at the same time. My advice was that we need to be slow and sure at everything we do; we must do one thing at a time.
My words are written in print, and available for anyone to read them.
I am quite happy to work with the BNF, BPP and others. It is not true that to work well with others, one necessarily needs to have sat at a table and said lets work in this particular way.
I will support my party and/or the people on whatever they decide.
Q. Do you see UDC bringing any positive results from 2014 general elections?
Yes, the UDC will make a resounding impact in the 2014.
We do think many credible candidates have stepped forward.
We also think many Batswana are beginning to see the need for a viable alternative to the ruling party, and are beginning to see the UDC as such as the alternative
Q. So far what could be a major stumbling block in your campaign as UDC?
Finances are a constraint
Q. Don’t you somehow feel that instability at BNF may be a stumbling block in selling the national project?
The outspokenness of a few activists within the BNF does not mean the BNF is unstable.
It is a party whose majority are able to anchor and withstand anything that seeks to come against them.
Q. What about troubles at BDP, are you taking advantage of the situation or what?
The BDP is fighting within itself yes, and one of our main objectives is to make the case that the UDC is better able to lead Botswana than the BDP.
So the strife within the BDP is assisting us to make the case to the people that they are not ideal leaders for our country and that the UDC could indeed be a much better alternative than them.
Q. Talking of BDP you were raised in that party, how did you feel when leaving it?
It was of course sad to leave the party especially under the circumstances in which I left it.
I reached a point where I thought the governance of our country was veering off in the wrong direction, and I did not think it could be fixed from within especially after 2008 when the current regime took over.
Q. Is UDC prepared enough to rule this country?
The UDC is prepared to run Botswana responsibly and creatively
Q. What will be your first major change once you take over?
Education system, de-centralise power and allow regional governments and institutions to “do their thing” (that is build strong institutions, no a strongman syndrome).
This will go hand in hand with creating an environment of fairness and efficiency based on merit in our Government.
The third focus is to restructure our economy by bringing to life our key strategic sectors, broadening participation of citizens in the economy (including their participation in Government procurement) and a vast public infrastructure development programme (strategic rail line(s), irrigation infrastructure, water projects, broadband, and technical schools).