PALAPYE: Onneetse Ramogapi is the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Palapye parliamentary hopeful in the next general elections after beating Ethel Gaampone in the party primaries held over the weekend.
Ramogapi beat Gaampone by 843 votes to 411. Ramogapi, formerly ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor, will have a tough task to wrestle the Palapye seat from his former party. The constituency has been in BDP hands since 1966 general elections. Ramogapi now fills in the shoes of a long time political activist James Olesitse.
Olesitse retired in 2015 after losing the 2014 general elections to Moiseraela Goya of the BDP. The veteran politician was active in politics for about 38 years before he threw in the towel after failing to unseat the ruling party in Palapye.
Olesitse contested the Palapye constituency with the former president Festus Mogae who was the second Member of Parliament for Palapye and lost. He also lost to Boyce Sebetlela who took over from Mogae and to the incumbent Goya.
BCP’s new hopeful, Ramogapi, lost the BDP primary elections, commonly known as Bulela-ditswe to Goya in 2014 before he defected to the BCP. He lost by over 1,000 votes, with Goya garnering 1767 while he managed 618 votes.
Ramogapi previously served as the Palapye Sub-Council chairperson He was a councillor for Mmaphula before the constituency was subdivided. He had won the council seat with a BDP ticket in 1999.
He sees himself as the right candidate to dethrone his former party of the Palapye constituency. He said he jumped the red ship out of principle. He said he had been opposing the ruling party while he was still serving as a member.
He said during his tenure as sub council chairman, he spoke against the “ill-advised” policies that he understood would not take the nation anywhere. He said during the time he
“My mission is to dethrone the BDP and give the people of Palapye and the nation of the Republic a renewed hope of better livelihood that is long overdue,” he said.
Ramogapi believes his triumph is a result of his dedication towards serving the people and his hard work in the party since he joined in 2014.
“BCP has given me an opportunity and I am thankful. I promise to work hard towards the general elections and ensure the BCP wins the Palapye constituency, and I also promise to serve diligently throughout.”
“In my entire political career I have been advocating for a change of these ill advised government policies that have blindfolded and impoverished Batswana, and have made them labour so hard for peanuts, while other people are reaping the fruits of their hard work with their corrupt tendencies and that has to stop,” he said.
Ramogapi said he went into the party primaries confident that he would triumph and as thus he has long devised a strategy to take his former party down. He said his campaign team is hitting the ground running towards preparations for the 2019 general elections.
He wished efforts could be made to bring the Alliance of Progressives on board as they are fighting a similar battle. “We are fighting a common enemy and if we were unified we could do much better, nonetheless we are prepared to fight with what we have and we believe we have everything we need to win the war,” he said.
Ramogapi is the director of Royal Professional College and Royal English Medium Primary School in the village.