The mere mention of his name around Monarch and Blue Town never fails to get a reaction out of an audience.
Tebogo Toteng is a 36-year-old Francistown native who’s beginning to cause discomfort within the Botswana Democratic Party, particularly in the Francistown West constituency.
A young man who seems to appeal to both young and old, Tebza as he is known on the streets of Monarch, is reluctant to disclose his political ambitions. However, the current buzz in the Ghetto tells a different story.
Just recently fists flew at a BDP congress between a faction supporting the incumbent, Ignatius Moswaane and another backing the young contender to the throne.
In this interview, the former scribe opens up to Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo.
Q. Good Day Tebza. You seem to be one of the most visible figures in Francistown at both social gatherings and city activities. Are you on some sort of a campaign?
A. Not really. I was born and raised in Monarch, Francistown. I’m part of the city and attending a funeral or football match is normal for me, everyone else does exactly the same.
For someone who schooled from primary level to senior level in Francistown, it is no surprise that a lot of people know me.
Some of these people are my elders, while others are my mates.
Q. Your name has been cropping up recently in connection with the Francistown West constituency. Are you vying for political office?
A. You see I have never hidden my love for the BDP, but as you know there’s a party protocol that I have to observe.
I have long declared my interest to party elders in the constituency, but this is not the right time to be talking about it.
The time will come when my interest will be made official.
Q. When did you become active in politics?
A. I was raised in a BDP family and was exposed to party politics at a young age.
In 2000 I enrolled with the University of Botswana pursuing a Degree in Media Studies.
I immediately became a prominent figure in student politics with BDP’s GS26.
I was voted GS26 Secretary General and later became the movement’s Chairperson.
Q. What value did you add to GS26?
A. When I got to UB, it was unfashionable to be a BDP activist within campus.
Botswana National Front was a dominant force and it took guts to face some of the popular opposition figures.
I still believe we did well under the circumstances because we managed to win some seats in the Student Representative Council.
At one point I was the SRC Secretary General. We eventually lost to Dumelang Saleshando who was a very popular opposition activist.
However, there is no denying that we revived BDP fortunes at UB.
Q. You mentioned going up against popular opposition activists. Who were those?
A. James Mathokgwane was already on his way out, but we still had to deal with guys like Dithapelo Keorapetse, Bontsi Monare and Noah Salakae.
Q. You are a trained journalist, why didn’t you pursue journalism?
A. I used to write, in fact my first job was with The Voice and I later joined The Gazette.
It was not easy getting a job, I remember I was unemployed for two full years.
I never lost hope though because I had an inspirational mother, she kept me optimistic.
Q. You are now a corporate man.
A. Yes, in 2008 my big break arrived, I was hired by Metropolitan Botswana as Public Relations Officer.
At the time the PR office was within the Human Resource office, so I had to build it from scratch.
18 months into the job I was elevated to be a Retail Marketing Consultant.
Next year March will be my 10th year with Metropolitan and to date my notable achievement was in 2012 after being transferred to Francistown from the Head Office.
We were able to grow the division and my employer rewarded that performance with a ‘Bonanza’.
This is an award given to best performers at Metropolitan across the world.
We went on a boat cruise through Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia.
Q. Wow! Sounds amazing.
A. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Q. Monarch is known as a difficult place to grow up in. How did you manage?
A. I know the challenges of raising a boy/girl child in Monarch and areas like Blue Town.
But most of what is said about my hood is not true.
There are challenges of course but with the right interventions we can give the upcoming generation a better future.
It is important that those who make it out of the hood should come back and be role models – I have an obligation to inspire youth in Monarch to be better versions of themselves.
Q. What interventions are you looking at?
A. There’s no better intervention than social clubs like football.
There is a danger in name calling people coming from impoverished areas.
The best way is to engage them and give them hope.
My duty is to make young people in areas like Monarch and Blue Town understand that their destiny should not be determined by where they come from.
They should be architects of their own destinies.
Q. There are interventions from government but still young people are roaming the streets and the quality of life has deteriorated. Where are we going wrong?
A. Most of the interventions are reactionary and counterproductive.
We are treating symptoms instead of causes.
The biggest intervention is education and currently there is a huge mismatch between graduates and what the industry needs.
It gets worse in densely populated areas like Monarch, Ntshe, Area S and Blue Town. Most people here are economically deprived which makes them vulnerable.
In situations like this we must stand up to protect the girl child, we need to revive Girl Guides.
Q. You are also part of the success story at Tafic Football club. When did you join the club?
A. Everyone who grew up in Francistown is a Tafic supporter.
I was approached to be the Marketing Manager at the club and went out to set the foundation for the club’s return to elite football.
We brought back the confidence in financiers and supporters. We rebranded the team and today Matjiminyenga is back.
This is good for Francistown, you can’t talk about the city and not talk about Tafic.
Now my wish is to see Ecco City Greens back playing in the Premier League, this city needs both teams.
It will do wonders for the economy of Francistown and the small man on the street.
Q. Should you stand and win elections, what will be your focus?
A. What is needed now is for our generation to think differently.
I grew up here and everything has stayed the same.
For a big constituency like Francistown West not to have a single venue where artists can practice their art is not right.
We have so much untapped artistic talent. My focus will be in empowering artists to be self-reliant.
Young people need someone who shares in their dreams – at the moment they feel abandoned and are quickly losing hope.
Standing for political office is something I’ve pondered over for a very long time.
I get encouraged from the conversations I hold with ordinary Francistown residents.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday. What do you have planned for this weekend?
A. This weekend I’m meeting a few individuals to brainstorm on a holiday event in Francistown.
I’ll also spend time at the Francistown Club where I’m also the Secretary.
On Sunday I’ll be playing Sunday soccer in Monarch.