In the male-dominated Botswana politics, three ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) women politicians, Talitha Monnakgotla, Annah Mokgethi and Nnaniki Makwinja took the bulls by their horns as they fiercely fought their way to Parliament. In this article, Mmegi Staff Writer, RYDER GABATHUSE looks at brief profiles of the trio, who broke the common cycle of patriarchy in local politics and will be the only directly elected women MPs in the 12th Parliament
History shows that before this trio, there were women of substance who were literally untouchable in the male-dominated game and stood the test of time. They incessantly beat their male counterparts to their own game.
Politicians like Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and before her, Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe in Serowe South, Gladys Kokorwe and Botlogile Tshireletso hanged their political stilettos with an unbeaten record. They have gone down into history books as women politicians who were never intimidated by their male counterparts.
At the Gaborone Bonnington North BDP parliamentary candidate, Mokgethi, formerly opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) operative has shattered the dream of the Umbrella for Democratic Party (UDC) president Duma Boko.
It was Boko’s dream to have a second bite at the Parliamentary cherry but Mokgethi, who had tried her luck many times before, would have none of that. She tilted the political scales toppling the favourite politician where it was least expected.
To many people, after Boko’s massive launch rally in the constituency recently, the UDC president was tipped to sail easily to victory.
Who is Mokgethi?
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has aptly described Mokgethi during her launch last August, “as the best candidate to represent the constituents and advocate for developments in the constituency.”
The President had highlighted that the 54-year-old Mokgethi’s track record, “spoke for itself and as a lawyer, she was best suitable to advocate for your needs.”
Because of her vocation, Masisi was elated that Mokgethi, an attorney by training, could be trusted in protecting rights of women and children. “Women naturally soar high like eagles and see the breadth and width of problems affecting electorates especially on issues that men could not comprehend.
I appeal to you to entrust your vote with Mma Mokgethi. She will be able to know when you have slept on empty stomachs and your general welfare,” government publication, Daily News had quoted President Masisi selling Mokgethi to the constituents.
Trying her luck for the umpteenth time in the constituency, Mokgethi knew what she was exactly looking for from the constituents.
She was sellable even though she was faced with a mammoth task of unseating Boko whose popularity has been soaring.
Mokgethi had always boasted that she was abreast with issues that affect the constituents and that she was the most suitable candidate to represent them.
“This constituency is the least developed in Gaborone and that by entrusting me with your votes, I will take your problems head-on,” She had vowed at her launch last August.
Makwinja has a story to tell about the roughness of politics. She can attest that there is no easy walk to victory. Her political journey started in 2013, when she contested the Gabane-Mmankgodi constituency primaries and lost to Lesedi Mmusi.
Makwinja, who proved to be an indefatigable fighter, never gave up even after politics had reared its ugly face to her. She would throw her name in the hat for the 2019 general elections and this time contesting against six seasoned male politicians, beating them to their game.
She even unseated then incumbent Vincent Seretse. This is at Lentsweletau-Mmopane constituency.
She would prove her mettle again when she won a re-run of the party primaries beating her male counterparts to the political game.
The 59-year-old Makwinja has dedicated her win to empowering women. “This is a great victory for women in politics and anywhere else. Women should know that they can lead and should contest for positions. Wherever there is a woman, there is a way. We have seen how women who are in Parliament are doing well in their constituencies, I believe I will win the elections next year and add to their contributions,” The Monitor had quoted Makwinja.
Even at her launch, Dorcas Makgato BDP Women’s Wing chairperson had said the prospective parliamentary candidate, Makwinja, was a capable representative who was trustworthy and capable of representing her constituents.
Makgato had also said that Makwinja had an impressive record when she was working for Debswana as well as the various roles she assumed in the party.
Those close to her describe Monnakgotla as a bold person, and she is also hailed as the first woman in the Kgalagadi constituency to contest for the parliamentary seat.
She is viewed by her peers as a, “proficient and result-oriented person”. Her promise to the masses was that if the constituents could entrust her with their votes she would not disappoint.
She told Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane when he launched her that if voted into power she would advocate for more infrastructural developments like accessible roads that connect Lokgwabe and Tsabong and other roads that connect their settlements for ease of movement.
Together with her husband, they run a successful transport business. One of the promises made by Monnakgotla when she accepted her candidature was that she would also advocate for Hukuntsi Sub-district to be upgraded to a fully-fledged district.
With her business acumen, Monnakgotla had vowed to work very hard to secure lucrative small stock markets so that farmers could have profitable returns; a local newspaper has quoted her.
Another local publication has described Monnakgotla as a social activist par excellence. The paper has further said, “the transport magnate with a deep-rooted social conscience carries the hopes of Bakgalagadi reformists, talks passionately about her kinsfolk, puts her money where her mouth is and understands how the power of her position can effect change.”
The Sunday Standard reflected that, “colleagues point to Mma Monnakgotla’s rare combination of business acumen, great accessibility and kinship passion as making her a good champion to reframe and exalt Bokgalagadi.”