A 20-year-old Ba Isago College student is in the race for the 2009 parliamentary elections as an independent candidate.
Mr. Phetso Kgosiemang is inspired by the fact that there is no youth representative in Botswana’s 57 strong parliament.
He said that Members of Parliament do not address youth needs directly so he wants to take the authority to do so but not neglecting other issues that are of concern to the general public.
Kgosiemang resides in Molepolole but found it fit to stand for elections in Mogoditshane. He said that the current MP, Patrick Masimolole, is not doing enough on addressing issues evolving around Mogoditshane and, compared to other villages, it is the least developed village with a high crime rate, and no access to water.
The Assistant Public Relations officer at the Independent Electoral Commission, Mr. Mpho Maifala, said that this is the youngest independent candidate they ever registered at their offices. He said that independent candidates submit their application with the symbols and colours to verify if they do not clash with someone else’s. They then go through the nomination process which is done in their 25 offices around the country.
Maifala said during the process, the candidate will be seconded by one member and supported by another seven members.
Kgosiemang is competing against political veterans, Mr. Mokgweetsi Kgosipula of the BNF, Paul Mudongo of the BCP and Mr. Masimolole of BDP.
Kgosiemang is not intimidated that his rivals have been in the public eye for a long time and is quite confident that he will make it so as to represent the youth in parliament.
Mr. Joseph Matsheng, a lecturer in Public Administration & Political Science at UB, said independent candidates are usually those candidates who cannot accept the verdict of the primary elections. He also said that the young candidates are usually very confident and when a party ill treats or rejects them, they have enough confidence to challenge as independents.
The young Kgosiemang says he does not believe in political parties as they limit potential.
Matsheng said the major advantage of being an independent candidate is that one is able to articulate their views in parliament or council without constraints often imposed by political parties on their members.
Kgosiemang said that Batswana generally rely on parties; they do not look at the individual’s potential. This, he said, is what drove him to stand as an independent candidate.
He said he believes in setting his own record, and does not believe in role models. He added that most parliamentarians rely or abide by their party’s positions and mandates and therefore do not look beyond that and end up sacrificing their people’s needs. “I do not see any current system of government which can make satisfactory developments and good governance,” he added.
He added that he is going to appeal to Mogoditshane people that he is the right candidate, by telling them the truth.
“I will not tell them that (ke tla le tsenyetsa dipompo mo malwapeng, goromente a sena madi). I will not say I will connect water in your households whilst I know it isn’t possible; they have to trust me,” he said.
Kgosiemang said there are intelligent citizens among the population who are not politically affiliated but can come up with sound ideas on how to address issues, therefore, they should be involved in decision making. He declared that he is going to open up to the population and work with them.
“To our parents, I have to convince them that I might be young but I bring about new ideas,” he added.
With all the campaign work to be done and being an SRC President with a workload of school work, Kgosiemang states that he knows how to manage his time well; everything has its own time, he says.
His goal, he says, is striving to make a difference in other people’s lives and that is what keeps him going everyday.
Out of the 8 wards in Mogoditshane, he is assisted by his campaign team in each of these wards. Some Members of these campaign teams are the SRC members from all tertiary schools in Mogoditshane, like GIPS.
Kgosiemang said that he is still self sufficient in terms of finances but is expecting two sponsors from his well wishers.
Phetso Kgosiemang is SRC president at Ba Isago College. He is a member of IEC (Information and Educational Committee) at DMAC (District Multisectoral AIDS Committee in Kweneng District).
He once worked at Maravi Support Group in Molepolole and also served in the SRC committee in KDU College in Malaysia in 2007.
Kgosiemang founded a charity association, MARPHIJAC Charity Association based in Molepolole, with two partners.
His advice to young aspiring politicians? They should know that they are not going to parliament for personal gains but for the best interests of the next person. “Be determined; don’t be intimidated.”