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FLYING SOLO: Stephen Sorinyana

FLYING SOLO: Stephen Sorinyana

He is no doubt a political heavyweight in opposition politics, especially in Ramotswa where he is credited for having built and grown the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) single handedly.

But Stephen Sorinyana has left his first political home to become an independent candidate (mokoko).

In a no holds barred interview he opens up to MMIKA SOLOMON about his life in the BCP.

Q. Take us through your journey in partisan politics.

I joined opposition politics in 2002 when I was recruited into the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

When they approached me they wanted me to run for a parliament seat in Ramotswa.

At that time I loved the Botswana National Front (BNF) but had never joined it. Mr. Kgabo Mabotseng recruited me to the BCP and I became a member.

He was the only BCP member in Ramotswa in 2002.

We worked tirelessly to build the party in the area.

Q. How did you enter the council?

I am the sitting councillor for Ramotswa South Central.

I won elections in 2004 and 2009.

I am also the Council Chairman of the South East South District council.

Q. My understanding is that in 2009 you were supposed to have contested for a parliamentary seat but you did not, what happened?

The BCP had asked me to stand for the parliamentary elections, but the party then suddenly merged with BAM.

A deal was reached that I pave way for BAM leader Ephraim Setshwaelo, which I didn’t have a problem with because part of the deal for the BCP to absorb BAM was to allow its leader stand for a parliamentary seat.

But as preparations for the 2014 elections began Mr. Setshwaelo notified the party that he would not be standing for a parliamentary seat and that the party should identify a suitable candidate.

Q. Were you that suitable candidate?

My name was suggested, yes.

Q. …so what happened?

I stood for primary elections against Samuel Rantuane who had been approached by the BCP leadership to challenge me.

The leadership felt he is more educated and that he has more resources than me.

There was a general feeling amongst the BCP leadership in Ramotswa that I should pave way for him to stand uncontested.

I was de- campaigned by the party leadership.

Q. Isn’t that the nature of politics, a dirty game?

The sad thing is that the party leadership allowed my opponent to print campaign material and to also stage football tournaments in the run up to the elections day, which contravened the rules and regulations that govern primary elections.

However, nothing was done about it.

Q. Did you file a complaint regarding these events?Stephen

I was a member of the central committee.

The Publicity Secretary would laugh off my complaints.

He dismissed me as being fearful of losing the elections and often said nasty things behind my back. I felt helpless.

Q. Who conducted the party’s primary elections in Ramotswa?

The whole primary elections were a joke.

The party announced on the eve of the elections that the constituency should conduct its own elections.

The party has neglected the Ramotswa constituency.

Q. How much did you lose the electns by?

I lost in the 3 wards where I had no representation.

I lost by a margin of 50 votes. People wanted money in order to be election observers but I didn’t have the money to pay them. I believe this I how I got cheated in the elections.

After the primary elections I thought the party would at least incorporate me into the campaign team for the region, but the BCP Ramotswa committee team called several meetings without inviting me.

Q. Did you appeal your loss?

No. There was no way I could have appealed the results given that the entire constituency committee and the party’s central committee were against me.

They preferred my opponent.

Q. Why did you not attend the meetings regardless of invitations?

I didn’t want to be seen as a crybaby.

I waited four weeks for a call from the leadership to no avail.

That proved to me that they didn’t care about me.

I then decided to go to my cattle post to cool off and even shied away from the media.

Q. You took a decision to resign from the BCP and stand as an independent candidate in the upcoming elections, is it a wise move?

Before I took the decision to become an independent candidate I met my supporters in Otse and that’s where the idea was born.

After that meeting, I received a call from Dumelang Saleshando saying that he had been informed of my decision to resign from the party.

He then stated that he would like to have a meeting with me.

Q. Did the meeting happen?

It was a Sunday and he came alone.

He told me that I should write a letter to the party immediately denouncing my membership, given I had decided to fly solo.

I told him that I had no problem in writing the letter, which I then did.

Q. Did he not try to convince you to reconsider your position?

Saleshando was too arrogant.

He left for Gaborone and never called me back.

In fact, the party Chairperson Motsei Rapelana came to my house and pleaded with me not to leave the party.

I asked why she was not interested in knowing the reasons behind my resignation but she did not seem concerned and also left without a satisfactory response.

Q. Why do you think they did not show any concern over your resignation?

The truth is that the BCP wants me as a councillor not as a parliamentary candidate.

But I believe that a politician should serve only two terms both as a councilor or MP.

That is why I now want to represent the people as an MP.

Q. Have you made up your mind that you will stand as an independent candidate?

I have made my mind. I am standing as an independent candidate and nothing will change that.

My constituents want me to represent them at the parliamentary level.

Q. Earlier on you talked about lack of resources, how are you going to raise funds needed to campaign as an independent candidate?

When I retired from PG Timbers I used up my pension money to build the BCP in Ramotswa.

However, the support I am getting from the people of Ramotswa and Otse is overwhelming.

Nobody should underestimate me. People have pledged to support me financially.

Q. What are your chances of winning the constituency?

I am optimistic that I will win. The BDP is weak in this constituency. UDC is yet to be tested.

The BCP has collapsed as there is a lot of division within the party structures in Ramotswa.

Q. Do you think the BCP should panic over your resignation?

The BCP leadership is fearful that I have a strong following and they are wondering how they are going to fare in the general elections because obviously they will not win.

Q. Why did you not join an opposition party like the UDC?

The UDC has approached me and even offered to assist me financially.

I could have considered their request, but unfortunately I had already made it known that I would be running as an independent candidate.

My fear is that time has run out to be concentrating on building a new party in Ramotswa.

I gave them the option of endorsing me instead of fielding a candidate but they flatly refused.

Q. Why did you not join the BDP?

The BDP approached me before their primary elections and said they don’t want the current MP Odirile Motlhale to represent them.

They thought I could be a better candidate, but I decided against joining the BDP because I don’t support the party’s policies.







2 Responses to “DETERMINED TO LEAD”

  1. xhwachaa 2014/03/11

    Gud luck to you my man,UDC or else you..them join UDC. After all you were mislead on the onset coz you loved BNF a long time ago. Manno a gago a gabilwe ko foranta.

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