When his peers chose the life of luxury at the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, Matlhomola Modise chose the rather rough and turbulent life of opposition politics in his endeavour to transform the lives of Batswana.
Attempts to entice him to join the ruling party failed until his death.
Many times in his political life, the ruling party tried to recruit him into its fold but he stood his ground, rejecting their advances where he probably would have been compensated with a ministerial post.
Modise died last week in a tragic car accident near Takatowane Village in the Kgalagadi District on his way to Hukuntsi where he was to pay his employees’ wages.
Speaking at his funeral, speaker after speaker described Modise as a humble politician who believed in opposition cooperation in a bid to oust the BDP from government.
BCP deputy president, Ephraim Setshwaelo, said Modise was a walking library, a walking bank who remembered everything even when he was not reading from the notes of previous meetings.
“He preached opposition cooperation. He was very patient. Even when I lost my temper during meetings, he would calm me down. He was a patient listener. He managed to listen to everybody, including those with divergent views, a virtue I do not have. We became spirited in opposition politics because all the time we went to meetings we would find that he had arranged everything to ensure that the meetings were a success,” said Setshwaelo.
Setshwaelo said Modise’s life can be traced as far back as the late Philip Matante and Motsamai Mpho era, when he (Modise) was still a student at Materspei College.
Matante and Mpho are founding members of the opposition Botswana People Party who both became Members of Parliament in the past.
Buttressing Modise’s patience, Setshwaelo said he would even listen to MaDomkrag although he never agreed with them.
“He was always smiling. He fought gallantly for opposition politics and at the time of his death he was keen on seeing opposition cooperation taking off the ground,” said the BCP deputy president who had worked with Modise during their days at Botswana Alliance Movement .
Mpho described Modise as a committed politician who traversed the width and breadth of Botswana preaching opposition politics. He said Modise believed in freedom of expression and was a good and patient listener.
Mpho wondered why the people of Francistown did not vote for Modise to go and represent them in parliament because he fought for their freedom, including the freedom of doing business.
Mpho also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the BDP, which he said was a cruel party that has failed to uplift the living standards of Batswana.
However, he was disappointed that despite the political commitment that Modise had shown over the years, opposition politicians had failed to come en masse to bury him.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Tonota North legislator, Pono Moatlhodi, also heaped praise on the late Modise, saying that in 1984 he (Moatlhodi ) and Modise were voted into the Francistown Town council as councilors for their respective parties and wards.
He said at the time they were councilors, Modise was vehemently opposed to the payment of service levy and although Modise was not the mayor at the time, he performed a lot of functions that were supposed to have been performed by the BPP mayor.
“I personally recruited him in 1986 and he calmly and humbly rejected my attempt,” said Moatlhodi.
Modise was the BCP’ parliamentary candidate for the Francistown constituency in the last general election. He lost to BDP’s Tshelang Masisi.
In his campaign, Modise promised to strive for free and compulsory education for all, education to equip the beneficiaries with skills that could enable them to face the hardships of life and create responsible citizens.
He called for improved infrastructure development such as roads and provision of electricity as well as construction of a junior and secondary school at Gerald Estates.
He is survived by his wife, five children and three grandchildren.
His funeral was attended by, amongst others, BCP president Dumelang Saleshando, former District Commissioner Sylvia Muzila, Abbey Chengeta and former MP Vain Mamela.