A Sunday Standard Correspondent caught up with John Mkhandla Mazabathi and asked him about a wide variety of issues, including his recent disrupting of a BMD press conference.
On why he disrupted the BMD press conference
“I was drunk,” declares John “Mazabathi” Mkhandla, when asked why he came to the BMD press conference with his colleagues in the BDP, clad in their party regalia and disrupted the proceedings.
Mokhandla says he regrets doing it and he would never do it when not under the influence of alcohol. He says he mobilized the party youth and drove them to the Falcon Crest where BMD was welcoming members of the BDP youth league who had resigned from the BDP en masse.
He admits that just like any person who gets dumped by their lover, they were dejected at the Youth League resignations. He says they knew they had done something wrong by disrupting the press conference and immediately after leaving the Falcon Crest they phoned their ‘bosses’ and told them to expect negative reports about their behavior.
He admits that he misled his ‘bosses’ and told them in advance that should they hear of any reports about their unruly behavior, they should just ignore the reports as it would be lies.
Mkhandla says BDP treasurer, Satar Dada and Isaac Seloko phoned him at night enquiring about reports of their unbecoming behavior and he flatly denied ever causing trouble at the meeting. Mkhandla says they made noise at the press conference as they were responding to heckling from the BNF and BCP members who were booing them.
What he likes about Ian Khama
“Khama is intelligent,” shouts Mkhandla. He says he likes Khama because contrary to allegations, Khama consults people whenever he makes decisions. When I challenge him to support his statement, Mkhandla tells me that when he became president, Ian Khama introduced the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC).When I put it to him that the HLCC was there even before Khama ascended the presidency, he responds that as far as he knows, the HLCC is the brainchild of Ian Khama and it only started after Khama became president. Mkhandla says he likes Ian Khama because he has saved the taxpayers money by abolishing the annual President Day celebrations that used to be hosted at the State House. He says government used to spend billions of Pula on alcohol that was consumed at these celebrations. According to Mazabathi, the billions of Pula are now used to support and encourage the youth and arts. He likes Khama because he has saved many marriages as men are forced to go home early due to the reduced hours of operation in the alcohol industry.
What he dislikes about Ian Khama
Interestingly, after giving Khama the accolades for reducing the hours of operation in the alcohol and entertainment industry, the same Mkhandla says he is not happy with the way Khama goes all out to stop alcohol consumption. He says by reducing the hours, Khama is killing the alcohol and entertainment industry. He says many people have lost employment due to these limited hours. Apart from alcohol, Mkhandla has no issues with Ian Khama.
On Gomolemo Motswaledi
Mkhandla says he sat Motswaledi down and ‘inducted’ him on business at Tsholetsa House. “Motswaledi took me out for coffee,” declares Mkhandla. This was after Motswaledi became the BDP Secretary General after the Kanye congress. Mkhandla claims that he told Motswaledi to concentrate on the administrative issues that were pending at the BDP secretariat and desist from challenging Khama’s powers. He says he was not happy that Motswaledi had ignored his advice and instead decided to be ‘misled’ by some people who encouraged him to challenge Khama in court.
In fact, he confesses that he was the happiest man when Motswaledi lost his case at the High Court. After the Court of Appeal announced its verdict on the case, Mkhandla got in the car and made several spins in front of the Tsholetsa head office. This, he says, was a way of showing his jubilation as he felt he had been vindicated. After all he had advised Motswaledi not to take Khama to court and, according to Mkhandla, Motswaledi must have thought he was just a mere driver whose wisdom was not worth heeding.
Mkhandla says when Motswaledi was suspended he, together with Lee Lesetedi, tracked down Motswaledi to deliver the suspension letter. He says Motswaledi’s suspension letter was written by BDP lawyers, Collins and Newman Company. When I enquire as to why the suspension letter had to come from Collins and Newman Company, instead of the BDP secretariat, Mkhandla proudly roars, “My brother, this was now a legal matter”.
I fail to connect the lawyers and the suspension but Mkhandla is of no help as he insists the lawyers were the right people to issue the suspension, without really giving concrete reasons for this arrangement.
Mkhandla boasts that after picking the letter from Collins and Newman Company, they tracked down Motswaledi to the African Mall in Gaborone and the whole intention was to embarrass Motswaledi. He says at the time, Motswaledi was using the Secretariat car and they planned to hand him the suspension letter and confiscate the car from him so he could walk to wherever he would have left his personal car. Mkhandla says when they got to Motswaledi, he felt bad and decided to abandon their earlier mission to humiliate Motswaledi. Instead of making him walk, Mkhandla says he decided to take the car from Motswaledi and offered him a lift to Bontleng where Motswaledi would pick his car.
On his soured relationship with Botsalo Ntuane
“We were as close as thighs,” says Mkhandla. He says they used to be friends and wherever you saw Ntuane it was obvious Mkhandla was somewhere near. Mkhandla says he used to be in the same faction with Ntuane but at one point Ntuane asked him to accompany him to Nata. He says Ntuane took care of all the expenses and even booked him a room at a lodge in Nata. It was in Nata where Ntuane would tell Mkhandla that he had decided to join Kwelagobe’s camp and implored Mkhandla to do the same. He says Ntuane told him how he had realized that Kwelagobe and his team were good people worth working with. Mkhandla claims it was his refusal to change factional allegiance that strained his friendship with Ntuane. Mkhandla says Ntuane was so mad at his refusal to join the Kwelagobe camp so much that he went on to take the television set he had bought him while they were still friends.
On Daniel Kwelagobe
“Kwelagobe’s body is in the BDP but his heart is at the BMD,” this is Mkhandla’s response when I seek his thoughts on BDP chairman, Daniel Kwelagobe. He says it is difficult for Kwelagobe to jump ship and join the BMD because of his business ties with property magnate Jamal. Mkhandla claims that Jamal provides for many of Kwelagobe’s needs such as housing and it would be difficult for Kwelagobe to be on the different side with Jamal, who, according to Mkhandla, sponsors the BDP. In fact Mkhandla says Jamal is in the process of financing the BDP very soon. He says it is an open secret that the sacking of three Duma Fm presenters was politically motivated. Jamal is the owner of Duma FM. ‘Jamal has business interests to protect,” justifies Mkhandla.
On Khama’s statement on Julius Malema
Mkhandla sees nothing wrong with President Ian Khama talking about Malema’s conduct. He says Ian Khama is a global politician and there’s nothing wrong with him referring to global leaders in his statements. When I ask what he thinks about the current resignations hitting the BDP, he says it is a sign of growth. I ask him why he describes resignations as a sign of growth and he confidently tells me all those who are leaving the BDP were never BDP members in the first place. Mkhandla says he is so happy to have been finally rewarded with a council seat. He admits that he had to literally fall on his knees to be given the specially elected seat. Throughout the conversation, Mkhandla declares his undying love and unwavering support for the BDP. He says he is the BDP and insists that were he to leave the BDP, it would be the end of the party as he commands a lot of following in the BDP.
I ask him when if he intends to resign and join the BMD to which he curtly responds, “How can I join them when I’m the one firing them!”