Former Botswana Democratic Party secretary General and specially nominated councillor for North West District,Thato Kwerepe is on a campaign trail to take back what used to be his father’s constituency.
The BDP candidate for Ngami is trying to bring back to the BDP a constituency that former MP Jacob Nkate lost to the BCP’s Taolo Habano in the last elections.
Voice Reporter Daniel Chida interviewed the former teacher at The Voice Offices in Maun.
Welcome Sir, can you introduce yourself.
Thanks Chida, I am the BDP candidate for Ngami constituency and a specially nominated councillor for North West District, I was nominated in 2009.
But Apart from that I am a teacher by profession who went as far as being a school head. Still in 2009 I was elected Secretary General of the BDP and served my term until 2011.
From 2011 to 2013 I was again elected to be an additional member of the Central Committee representing our district.
I was born and raised within the BDP family and my father Gaerolwe Kwerepe was once an area MP.
So your father was once an MP for the area?
Yes he served for 29 years from 1965 until 1994 when he handed over the constituency to Jacob Nkate.
Why did he overlook you, his son?
I was not interested in politics by then since I was a teacher.
Since you are contesting does he share with you tricks of the trade and offer you his advice on how to win the elections?
Yeah, he does tell me to focus on the constituency needs and protect the BDP policies and that is exactly what I am doing.
Ngami was a BDP home for close to 30 years until BCP came into the picture and took over, where did it go wrong?
I don’t really know what happened but I am working around the clock to bring back the constituency to BDP.
Did BDP develop Ngami?
What developments did your government implement so far?
We built roads, schools, health facilities and brought easy telecommunications facilities and networks to our area.
Let’s talk about FMD where have you failed?
That one is a natural disaster which we cannot be blamed for. We have no control over it but government is committed to fighting it although it is something you cannot eradicate completely.
Then last year there was drought, what did you do?
Government came up with initiatives to help affected farmers, prices for animal feeds were reduced and some managed to feed their animals.
Farmers cry foul that their cattle are bought by the BMC at cheap prices, your views on that Sir.
When it comes to money you cannot satisfy anyone, the pricing is fine, and no matter how much you increase the prices by, farmers will always complain. Our focus should be on sourcing markets for our animals.
Poaching is rife in your area, what is the problem?
I don’t know why poaching is so high.
You are campaigning for a high post and you should be in a position to know the cause.
To be honest with you I am clueless, I can’t tell.
Government banned trophy hunting; can you share with us how it was reached since you were a member of Central Committee?
That was a good move by our government, I know places like Sehithwa where we had wild animals but they are nowhere to be seen because of hunting.
You have to take into consideration that consultation was done in Khwai and surrounding areas.
But then the ban has been lifted
The ban was a temporary measure because of the high rate of poaching. If it’s true that the ban has been lifted then there is no problem with that but I have to familiarise myself with it first because I wasn’t aware of it.
What about human-life conflict?
We have to co-exist with animals and it is manageable.
But elephants cause destruction.
Yes they do but it happens once in a while may be during rainy seasons.
I don’t know why people point fingers at animals because they (humans) do cause lot of destruction too even their domestic animals cause destruction at their farms, why blame elephants?
Government has put measures in place to help those who are affected.
What contribution did you bring to the Party during your tenure as a Central Committee member?
I brought stability to the party and that was the necessary thing.
People must accept that in a democratic state we are entitled to our choices of who we want and who we do not want but at the end of it all we have to respect decisions taken by the party.
There were allegations that you were selected / voted based more on your Surname than your contribution, how true is that?
No way! I did contest for my positions, even for my job, I did interviews just like any other ordinary citizen. I was voted on merit.
Why should people of Ngami vote for you come October?
They must vote for me because we are fighting to eradicate poverty.
I am advocating for youth to benefit from tourism by coming up with initiatives that will help them.
I will fight unemployment and encourage them to adopt government policies.
People in areas like Etsha should be encouraged to do basketry and crafts since government will be buying their products to decorate offices.
How is your campaign going?
Everything is fine
What challenges do you have in your campaign?
The only challenge is my opponents nothing else.
Lucky you, while opposition parties are crying about lack of funds you are sitting pretty?
Money is a problem for everyone, not mentioning it does not mean we have it in abundance but you still have to find ways to get it.
Share with us news that you were given four vehicles which were meant for DIS.
I don’t know about that except that we bought vehicles using the money that was generated during primary elections registration.
Do you take Council position seriously?
Yes I do. Our leaders keep track of our input.
What is it that you want NWDC to remember you for since you will be heading to Parliament?
I tabled quite a number of motions. I remember the one about small businesses empowerment.
But to be honest Kwerepe your contribution at Council level has been very minimal, why?
It wasn’t minimal I did contribute during council sessions.
I did ask you about your contribution but you gave me a single motion you tabled, do you think that was enough for the entire five year term?
I fought for council employees’ accommodation and to have approval of birth certificates being accessed regionally instead of Gaborone.
But it is still not enough; anyway thank you for your time and good luck.
You are welcome.