Mmegi: Very little is known about Makosha in the BDP politics, can you introduce yourself?
Makosha: I am 53-year-old Rayner Makosha, the sixth child of Ngaparelang and Sikalebe right here in Gweta, Makosha ward. Both my parents are now deceased and we were a family of eight children before one of us departed to join the parents. My parents were farmers and naturally I was a masimo and moraka boy and I have since inherited farming strategies from my parents.
I did my primary education in the village before proceeding to the Moremi III Memorial School in Maun. From 1972-74, I enrolled for my junior secondary school at Maun Secondary School before proceeding to Shashe River Secondary School where I completed my Cambridge in 1976.
As a self-made man, I enrolled with the TransWorld Tutorial College in the UK for a correspondence course in Tropical Agriculture. I was later employed by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Department of Agricultural Resources Board. The government later sponsored me to pursue a Diploma in Adult Education at the University of Botswana (UB) and on completion I was posted to Kweneng District as a development officer before I quit to pursue other interests in 1989.
Mmegi: After quitting the civil service, what did you do?
Makosha: I set up my own textile and civil engineering companies and joined the ranks of the self-employed. In fact, I started off with a bakery business in Botlhapatlou before I relocated to Gweta where I am currently based. I also tried my luck at operating a liquor outlet in Botlhapatlou. I lived in Kweneng District for five years. I am a businessman who loves appreciating other people from their various backgrounds. It is my strongest belief that there should be no single person living below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL). By the way, poverty does not confer dignity on anyone and must be fought by all means possible.
After quitting my job, I later learnt the two extreme points of life, having plenty and having nothing. In the field of construction, you can stay for a long time without jobs and that is difficult to bear if you don't have any other means as it could mean exhausting all your savings.
Mmegi: When did you become active in politics?
Makusha: Since I was now operating my businesses from home, I became quite active in many village development endeavours and joined the Gweta Village Development Committee (VDC) which I also chaired for sometime. It is the VDC that actually helped me launch my political ambitions as I became very close to the villagers and appreciated all the development related issues. I realised during my tenure as the VDC chair that the villagers needed my experience and guidance to run their affairs.
Most importantly, when I took over as the chairman, the VDC was having only P5,000 in the bank account and it was under my robust and focused leadership that I changed the fortunes of the villagers and when I quit the VDC chairmanship, their bank account had a hefty P40,000. Village elders, such as a local businessman and former District Commissioner, Modisenyana Bobeng hailed my leadership prowess.
I later joined active politics proper since I had now familiarised myself with the troubles bedevilling the villagers. I started off joining opposition politics under the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) ticket. Around 1999, it was really difficult to even enlist in the BDP during the era of the party's committee of 18.
Frustrated as I was, I stood for the 1999 general election under the BPP ticket and lost in the then Sebina/Gweta constituency. It was only in 2002 that my dream of joining the BDP was fulfilled and I stood against Mfa in the BDP parliamentary primaries in 2004 and lost.
Mmegi: Did losing to Mfa twice not dampen your spirit?
Makosha: Not at all. I literally trusted my working rate from the word go although I knew that ousting a popular politician like Mfa would not be easy. Because I had launched my campaign proper in 2004, I remained hopeful that I would be rewarded in the end. I started working on my 'political weaknesses' and I worked very hard that even on the day of the primaries, I was satisfied with my work rate and knew that I was going to make it. It came as no surprise that I won five of the eight contested wards and lost the three with small margins. In overall terms, I was leading the incumbent with 433 votes, which proves a point that my win was no fluke. I have won five wards in Dukwi, Tshwaane, Nata West, Gweta East and Gweta West whilst Mfa took Nata East, Mosetse and Zoroga.
Mmegi: What does your win mean to the constituents?
Makusha: Well, if I finally go to Parliament as the area MP, there are a number of outstanding projects from the previous National Development Plans (NDPs) that I would strive to push and ensure that they see light of the day. In the wider constituency, a lot of villages have an acute shortage of water and this is what will be on my list of priorities.
Mmegi: What do you think gave you an edge over your competitor?
Makusha: Mfa has been the area MP for three terms now and the villagers also felt that it was time to change faces. It was common as we went around the constituency that villagers queried that they now needed someone who could stay within the constituency so that their troubles could be appreciated closely rather than having to meet their MP during Kgotla meetings only.
Compared to the former Sebina/Gweta MP, late Richard Ndwapi, Mfa they claimed hardly visited their homes and spent time with them and in that way, since my home is right here in Gweta; I took up the challenge of representing the constituents because they felt I was the right man for the job. During the campaigns I literally visited almost all the homesteads in the area and I was likened to Ndwapi for my approach - Nna, ba re ke tshwana le Ndwapi.
Perhaps, for emphasis, the villagers were saying that since Mfa comes from Nshakazhogwe village in the Tonota North constituency, he should try his luck there in the next Bulela Ditswe primaries although our democracy allows that any interested party can contest anywhere in the country.
Most importantly, I had camped in the constituency and in some instances I was forced to sleep at the back of my bakkie. It also did not matter to me where I slept. I am going to continue feeling the pulse of the constituents, as besides being a politician, I will continue with my construction business.
Mmegi: You seem to be unknown in the BDP circles as our recent attempts to
trace your whereabouts hit a snag as the branch secretary Ruth Sekgwama did not have your contact details. We telephoned the Nata/Gweta constituency office and they did not have your contacts. We even reached the BDP headquarters where the party executive secretary, Dr Comma Serema, and the office generally, did not have your contacts. Was this genuine or simply cosmetic?
Makusha: I agree that I might not be listed among the party's who-is-who but I can assure you that people who matter - the constituents - know me very well, kana ke ngwana wa kgaolo (I am the son of the soil).
I am certain that as I travel along the length and breadth of the constituency I will meet a lot of people that I know. Even in this contest I was encouraged by the people to represent them especially after Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane chose to contest in the Gaborone West South constituency. To answer your question, I wouldn't say that I am not known as such, I was also shocked about this when the press continued to describe me as "Little known Makosha". I take it that some people simply undermined my candidature and it never crossed their minds that I could oust a man of Mfa's calibre.
Having served this country in different capacities, I wouldn't think that I am not known.
I have held the position of a cell secretary in Gweta and I hope over time, I would try my luck in other positions, but I wouldn't like to be seen to be eyeing all the political positions.
Mmegi: The BDP diehards commonly identify themselves through the party's traditional Kedikilwe-Kwelagobe and Nkate-Merafhe factions, which faction do you belong to?
Makusha: Coming from the background of opposition parties, my interest has always been to represent the people and not factional interests.
Mmegi: Where do you want to be in the next 10 years with your political career?
Makusha: To me, Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Minister, Daniel Kwelagobe, or 'DK' as he is affectionately called, is my role model. If he has been in Parliament and Cabinet for so many terms effectively, I want to follow his path. Come what may, I am ready to take up the challenge and I can only say that the sky is the limit.
Ideally, I would be happy to do two terms and depending on my health status, I might go beyond two terms.
Mmegi: What calibre of councillors do you want to work with as your ideal team?
Makusha: If possible, it should be people who understand how the central government and the local authorities function especially. They should also understand what is expected of them as councillors. Basically, my councillors should understand what issues they can take to the council and what they cannot take there.
Mmegi: Nata/Gweta is widely a tourist area with its flora and fauna, what are you going to do to further sell the area so that the constituents could further benefit?
Makosha: There are many challenges in this area. But, under the leadership of Khama, there is a ray of hope and what it means is that we will continue looking at the broader government programmes and see how this area could benefit. This area has so many opportunities and we have to do something as politicians to ensure that they reap benefits for the people.
Mmegi: Ever since we met this morning, a lot of people seem to be rallying behind you and they address you as the 'MP' as if you are already one, why?
Makosha: You will appreciate that in an area like this one where there is no opposition or where opposition is weak, people are bound to count chickens before they are hatched. It is not that I am behaving like their MP (He laughs). It is unfortunate that wherever I go, my fans never hide their feelings about me.
Mmegi: If you were to change the constituency today, where will you start?
Makosha: Zoroga and Tsokotshaa villages bear the same conditions like Malatswai in the Serowe North West constituency where President Ian Khama has set up a development trust in an endeavour to uplift the lives of these people. I strongly believe that the only trick would be to empower the people first and allow them to fend for themselves in future. I would emulate President Khama and copy his model of a development trust.
I was a development officer before and I have worked with the underprivileged people before and would not have any problems dealing with them once I become the area MP. In fact, they are part of my supporters and would not wait to change their fortunes. The government has programmes in place so it is only a question of ensuring that these programmes are put to good use.
Mmegi: Are you related to Minister of Education and Skills Development Jacob Nkate because you look alike though you appear heftier than him?
Makosha: You are not the first person to say that, but we are not related. I remember whilst attending a BDP congress in Ghanzi, I was approached by some party faithful who asked me if I were related to Nkate. Well, sometimes it happens that people can see some similarities that you cannot see yourself.
Mmegi: Politicians are often accused of buying elections by doling out hard cash, foodstuff and other things, to win favours from the constituents. There were rumours in the constituency that you bought people. What is your reaction?
Makosha: If politicians do that, I am yet to appreciate that trick and I don't think I can employ that trick when I know that perseverance pays. My trick is simply hard work. Well, for humanitarian reasons you can give out to the needy people not necessarily that you will be buying any favour.
For instance, as we criss-crossed the wider area during Bulela Ditswe primaries, there were people who literally had nothing to eat but subsisted on the risky business of feeding on wild birds as their only meal. Such people really needed help rather than laughing off their predicament. You will therefore, be forced to dig deeper into your pockets and ensure that they have something to eat and you can't call that buying elections in anyway.
Mmegi: Your last words?
Makosha: I would like to thank my family for having supported me through thick and thin. To the constituents, I will continue working with them until they take me to the Parliament. I am not going to interfere with the work of the sitting MP, as I know my limits. Just like in any other field, I am ready to learn from those in the know, and if I were to borrow the words of Nkoloi Nkoloi: The road to enlightenment is always under construction.