Thursday, April 25, 2024

A soldier turned politician vies for Parliament

He was born and raised in Gabane at a date he does not want to divulge and joined the Botswana Defence Force as an Officer Cadet.

He rose through the ranks until the position of Major General and Commander of ground forces, where he vociferously advocated for soldiers’ welfare.

Major General Pius Mokgware was as a result dismissed from the army. His dismissal stirred his political aspirations.

“The powers bestowed on the government executive, especially the president by the Botswana Constitution are a cause for concern,” he says. “The conditions of service of workers in this country are very poor. Remember the dismissal of 480 striking workers?”

He decries the fact that Permanent Secretaries possess powers to dismiss all workers under their supervision using their own discretion, without being questioned ÔÇô a situation he says leaves a lot to be desired. Such powers provide for the dismissal of even Directors in government departments.

Sadly, he says, that’s how he fell prey to the harsh working conditions in this country. The under development of his place of origin was yet another thorn in his heart.

And so Mokgware ventured into the race for the 2014 general elections under the opposition coalition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) where he stood unchallenged for the Gabane/ Mmankgodi constituency parliamentary candidature.

The most underdeveloped constituency in the peripheries of Gaborone city, it has one of the highest numbers of registered voters for the 2014 general elections. More than 22 000 had registered for elections in the constituency before the closure of registration transfers two months ago.

In his chat with The Telegraph, Mokgware said he brings a host of skills buttressed by experience, to transform it into a desirable trading destination.

He says the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has abysmally failed to develop the constituency despite the fact that it has the potential to attract investors and create employment and pay tax which in turn boosts the country’s economy.

“I am going to advocate for the provision of a police station in Mankgodi village. Street lights in the villages forming the Gabane-Mankgodi constituency; job creation by way of attracting business people in the area. I am going to promote conservation of the environment, that is ensuring that no illegal dumping of waste and gravel mining.”

Education wise, Mokgware promises to bring about educational improvement by advocating for a 25/1 student teachers ratio.
He will ensure schools are well maintained, ensure availability of educational material and teachers’ conditions of service are improved.

“I am going to advocate for councilors to be provided with office accommodation. Having served in the public service for 30 years, I also bring expertise on how to access government resources and the relevant offices in contact for any particular need,” he said.
Having worked with the youth on various issues in the country, Mokgware also intends to share those skills with the whole constituency.

“As your Mp I will work to deliver to the thousands of local people who are struggling in these tough economic times. I will fight for decent working conditions and wages for all workers. Overall I will be a strong voice standing up for our constituency,” he promised.

In a nutshell, Mokgware’s constituency manifesto’ lists his priorities as: “Employment creation, infrastructure development, protect the environment, ensure residents get housing plots by reducing the waiting list for plots allocation; be there to help residents with issues affecting them. He is to be everyone’s voice.”

He says he would speak in parliament for the people suffering from mental illnesses, victims of domestic violence, the unemployed and military and other forces who cannot unionize.

He promises also, that as the UDC manifesto promises, improved livelihoods of all the society. His party is going to sign the Southern African Development (SADC) gender protocol which seems a problem to the ruling BDP.

Quizzed on the criticism leveled against his party by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) that it is silent on labour issues such as workers pensions, minimum wage and maternity leave, Mokgware quashes them as, ‘Politics of slogans’, which he says cannot take this country anywhere.

He said the BCP picks up small items from needs of voters and claims its manifesto better defines people’s needs than UDC.
“The UDC talks of improved working conditions, BCP picks small items like pension, minimum wages and maternity leave. These are part of the conditions of service-improved working conditions that we advocate for,” he said, adding that the BCP’s ‘bring back our jobs’ slogan is one of the weird slogans that the BCP prides itself about.

There should be training provided for the beneficiaries of this slogan. It is not a guarantee that the said jobs will immediately materialize.

“The same thing applies to their other slogan of land audit. The UDC talks of land reform. Audit cannot always be a solution since it will end up involving court cases. Delays might be encountered and supposedly beneficiaries disadvantaged in the process,” he says.

To accusations that he joined politics for the mere fact of settling his personal differences with President Khama that contributed to his dismissal from the BDF Mokgware retorts: “Nosense. There is no grudge that I bear against Khama that forced me into politics. I am driven by passion for my people who have been ignored by the government for decades. My communication is much clearer to understand than those of my rivals.”

Mokgware is contesting for Gabane-Mankgodi with Nthusang Mozambia Dibe of BCP and Lesedi Mmusi of BDP ÔÇô all originating from Mankgodi village.

The constituency has for a while being a strong hold for BDP. Tables are however bound to turn, given the strong campaigns the opposition displaying all over the country.

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