Last Updated
Friday 19 December 2014, 09:33 am.
Lesaso on the move in Shoshong

Not many people would have taken you seriously if you had predicted that the Botswana National Front (BNF) stood a good chance in the Shoshong constituency in last year's general election.
By Staff Writer Mon 22 Dec 2014, 11:10 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Lesaso on the move in Shoshong








This is because Shoshong is in the heartland of the Bamangwato territory, where the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) reigns supreme. 

However, the BNF parliamentary candidate, Aubrey Lesaso, nearly caused a major upset as he polled 3,203 votes while the ultimate winner, Phillip Makgalemele, of the BDP got 4,820.

Of course, Lesaso was beaten but he was a winner in his own way because this was the first time the BNF has been voted by so many people in Shoshong.

The hopes of the opposition now rest with Lesaso after Makgelemele, who had defected to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), re-trekked to the ruling party. Lesaso, who was not known that much, has become the new kid on the block in opposition politics.

This week, Lesaso related the strategy behind their campaign. He said they had to devise an elaborate strategy and kickstart their campaign early because they are in Gamagwato which is a BDP stronghold. 

Lesaso had always believed in the saying that the earliest bird catches the fattest worm.

Lesaso also attributes the BNF's good performance to hard work. He praised their team for working very hard. The campaign was marshalled by the youth.  "We had a good team," he says.

But he conceded that things were tough because they were funding the campaign from their own pockets. 

They started by hitting the outlying villages surrounding Shoshong.

"We had to test the waters outside. We started building our support from outside Shoshong," he said. 

One of the areas which they targeted was Bonwapitse, which, he said, had only about four BNF members.  But the BNF ended up winning the ward with more than 800 voters.  

Lesaso said they had a strategic planner in Bonwapitse, Shoshong North, in the form of the council candidate, Phatalalo Magogodi.

The BNF campaign message highlighted that Shoshong is one of the most impoverished areas.  Poverty is prevalent in the area.  There is also a shortage of water.  Another challenge is the of high rate of unemployment.

The BNF campaign centred around those issues.  Lesaso said they made people aware of their plight saying that the BNF was their hope as the BDP has failed them. 

He said children from Bonwapitse attend secondary school in Kalamare where they are exposed to all types of horrible conditions. The children are accommodated by hostile host families in Kalamare. In his view, this has led to a high failure rate.

Tewane was another area which was a target of their early campaign.  The BNF activist said they also applied the same strategy at Kodibeng. Just like in other areas, Kodibeng was also engulfed by poverty. 

People drink water which is not fit for human consumption. The BNF council candidate for the ward addressed the issues that people were faced with. 

Another village that was in the campaign map was Kalamare. However, Lesaso said they lost the ward because the BDP took advantage of the fact that the BNF had fielded a candidate with a disability.

He said the BDP mocked their candidate saying that he could not do anything for the people because he had a disability.

However, Lesaso found this to be insensitive because people should not discriminate against others basing on their disabilities.  He said people with disabilities are equally capable and this is why the BNF had fielded one of those candidates. He said the BDP does not speak the same language. 

At the Otse settlement, Lesaso said the people are living in deplorable conditions. 

"We made people realise that they were living under inhabitable conditions. Some of them were sleeping in tents," he said.

Lesaso said most of the people in the settlement depend on government handouts, while unemployment and poverty are rife. 

The BNF candidate said the people realised that they could lead a better life if they had better representation.  During general elections, BNF also managed to win two out of the seven council wards in the constituency.  But Lesaso insists that that they have scooped four wards.

He considers Mosolotshane Ward to be theirs because it was won by an independent candidate, Mogalakwe Mogalakwe, who has made a come back to the BNF.  Lesaso said they have only lost the Kodibeng Ward by three votes and it was good as theirs.

He said in Otse they put a lot of pressure on the BDP candidate who has been a councillor for a long time.  The councillor was forced to campaign for the first time. 

He claimed that there was voter trafficking in Shoshong South and this was why the BNF ended up losing the ward.  He said there were a number of people who had registered in Shoshong South but they were never available when the campaign team was doing their 'house-to-house' campaign. 

They only turned up on voting day. To the BNF candidate, this showed that most of the people who had registered were not from Shoshong South. 

On the overall, Lesaso said he had expected that he was going to win because of the groundwork they had covered. 

"We were confident that we were going to win," he said.  But he is not disappointed with the outcome and he intends to continue with the struggle. 

Lesaso said they celebrated after the results were announced. 

He said people of Shoshong have shown that they have confidence in the BNF by voting for the party in large numbers.

He recalled that when they started the campaign, the constituency was predominately pro BDP but the BNF has made inroads.

"The people of Shoshong need us in terms of credibility because of what happened to the BDP," he said.  He was referring to the recent developments, when Makgalemele defected to the BMD and then made a return to the BDP.

Lesaso dismisses Makgalemele as a burden to the people of Shoshong. He said the MP has proven that he can never be trusted.

"I campaigned on a motto of trustworthiness and that I could work with the people.  But the MP has been the opposite of that motto," he said.  "I have always said he can never be trusted.  Our concerns have been confirmed that he can't be trusted.  We have always questioned whether he could be trusted," he said. 

Lesaso, who is embracing opposition unity, said they would never forgive Makgalemele for defecting from the BMD to re-join the BDP.  He said when Makgalemele was crossing from the BDP, he consulted them as opposition members.  But he said when the MP decided to return to the BDP, he never bothered consulting them. Lesaso feels that Makgalemele has reached a cul-de-sac in his political career.

He said the MP has a bad record of incompetency. "Even BDP members were saying a lot of things about him when he crossed to the BMD," he said.

"The people of Shoshong have a lot of problems that need to be addressed by a serious minded representative," says Lesaso.

He said it is only lately that the village has an adequate water supply.

Unlike Makgalemele, Lesaso said he has always been with the BNF.  He did not run away when the party was facing a crisis.

Lesaso, an engineer by profession, said he joined the BNF in 1983 after he completed high school.  He was inspired by the late BNF leader, Dr Kenneth Koma's, philosophy.  "I followed the manner in which Dr Koma addressed the issues that were affecting Gaborone residents then.  He really influenced me by the manner in which he was addressing issues.  His philosophy dealt with issues affecting Batswana".

Lesaso used to work for the Department of Water Affairs.  When he went out on trips, he was touched by people who did not have potable water.  He said there were few villages that had potable water then. 

He was also touched by the abject poverty that people in the rural areas were exposed to.  "I think my association with the rural communities also paved my political career," he muses. Lesaso, who quit the civil service in 2002, contested the BNF primary elections for the Kgale View Ward in Gaborone the following year.  Although he was defeated, he never stopped working for the party. 

He was elected the party treasurer during the BNF congress that was held in July.  As the BNF treasurer, he wants to help the party to raise funds so that it can compete with the BDP on an equal footing. 

Lesaso is working hard in his constituency.  The BNF has opened an office in Shoshong.  He intends to equip the office with facilities like computers that can be utilised by the youth.



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