The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has hopes that it could penetrate the Southern part of Botswana if Mephato Reatile holds key positions in the party, insiders have revealed. After defecting from Botswana National Front (BNF) in 2012, Reatile lost his Ngwaketse West constituency (now Jwaneng-Mabutsane) to Shawn Nthaile in the 2014 general elections.
However, Reatile’s life was not disrupted by the loss as he was immediately rewarded with the position of nominated councillor and elected chairperson of the Southern District Council, where the BDP is in the majority.
Insiders believe that Reatile is a hard worker and attribute the party’s victory in Sekoma council by-election early this year to his hard work. The ward was previously held by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). The party leadership is said to believe that he will continue to yield positive results in the area going forward.
To the surprise of many people, Reatile made it to the top two of the party’s preferred candidates for the Specially Elected Members of Parliament seats after his name was called alongside that of Bogolo Kenewendo, where they were endorsed by Parliament yesterday.
He beat other heavyweights like the party secretary general Botsalo Ntuane, former Botswana Defence Force commander, Tebogo Masire and Blacky Marole. Mmegi has learnt that at the BDP parliamentary caucus that was held on Wednesday and Thursday morning, the MPs had proposed their secretary general’s name and did not object to Kenewendo’s name as they were told that hers was brought up because she is youth and a woman, Mmegi has learnt. “It was clear from caucus that some (of the) party leadership did not want Ntuane’s name. We did not get convincing reasons on why they don’t want Ntuane. We also questioned why the leadership preferred an outsider when we have our women in the party who are youth. This discourages some of the youth or women who had been working hard for the party. It is not even clear whether she has our membership or not,” a source said.
Reatile got 33 votes, Kenewendo 31 while the opposition MPs abstained from voting and four were spoiled.
Kenewendo is an internationally trained economist, media commentator and policy analyst.
She now works as a Trade Economist in the Ministry of Trade and Tndustry in Ghana, and was previously employed as an economic consultant at Econsult Botswana.
Kenewendo holds an MSc in International Economics from the University of Sussex in the UK, and was a recipient of a prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2012. She completed her BA in Economics at the University of Botswana. While at the University of Botswana, Kenewendo studied abroad at Pitzer College in
She has experience in consultancy, research and policy analysis. Her areas of expertise include macroeconomic policy, export development, regulatory frameworks, poverty alleviation, financial sector development, the economics of HIV, climate change, as well as business advocacy and project management.
However, drama nearly erupted in Parliament when opposition MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi stood up to request the Speaker to shortly brief the House about the profiles for the two.
“Enlighten us the Speaker about the CVs for the two people so that we could vote properly,” Mmolotsi said.
However, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe said it is not there in the roles of Parliament that they should read people’s CVs.
“I have letters of consent from those people. I did so because it is upon my powers to do so,” Kokorwe said.
That alone provoked the MP for Selebi Phikwe West constituency to speak on point of order to seek clarity on why Dumelang Saleshando’s name was at some point brought in Parliament for being voted as a specially elected without seeking his consent.
“I said I had made those roles and that is why I had to seek consent from these two,” Kokorwe emphasised.
Meanwhile, political analyst Antony Morima said the problem with specially elected positions is that people are not chosen because of their speciality, but rather it is taken as a reward.
“Reatile is not going to bring anything new to Parliament but one cannot dispute that he is a hard worker in politics. The BDP knows very well that Reatile knows house to house campaigns and he can encounter opposition parties when it comes to that,” Morima said.
For the new woman, whom it is not clear on what she would bring to BDP, Morima said the BDP must be given credit because people had long advocated for a woman and a youthful MP.
“She will learn politics with time. Normally youth do not take long to grasp on things,” he said.