Briefly tell us about yourself
My name is Banks Tebelelo Ndebele, I am 41 years old, I am a civic leader in the Kweneng District Council, but I also run an agricultural based business and agency. I am married and a proud father of a 5 year old beautiful daughter.
When did you become a Politician and what motivated you to do so?
I have been in active politics for over 20 years. I developed interest in politics in 1990 when I was at Moeding College, as a supporter and later a full member of the BNF. I was a member of Botswana Socialist Youth (BSY) operating under the umbrella of the BNF. I am now a BCP member, joined it in 1998 when it was formed. I joined politics becuase of a deep desire to make a difference in people’s lives.
Which constituency do you represent and would you say there have been some significant developmental changes ever since you represented it?
I am the councillor for Mogoditshane North ward in the Mogoditshane constituency. I am also the Deputy Chairperson for Mogoditshane-Thamaga Sub-District Council.
As a Councillor in Mogoditshane North, I have so far successfully pushed for the following projects:
- Paving of a road in front of Ledumadumane CJSS.
- Setting up a Recreational park in the ward and the first in the rest of Kweneng district.
- Establishing a well functioning and all embracing Village Development Committee (VDC)
- Acquiring plots for a daycare centre and recreational park in the ward.
- Donated 240 trees that were planted in Mogoditshane North, including at the kgotla and the two schools in the ward.
- Introduced “backyard farming” concept in Mogoditshane North, (NOT backyard garden), and donated 60 indeginous chickens to twelve needy families to rear (5 chickens per family).
- Sponsoring trophies for the best student overall for STD 7s and Form 3s in the ward.
- Solicited 100 chairs and a photocopier from the private sector for Moamogwe Primary school.
- Started a neighbourhood watch initiative in Mogoditshane North as a strategy to fight crime.
- Erection of flood lights on all four corners of Moamogwe Primary school to curb crime.
- Construction of a guard house at Moamogwe Primary school which is used by night watchmen who protect the school property.
- Construction of additional ablution blocks at Moamogwe Primary school to keep up with the population size of the school
- Improving drainage at Moamogwe Primary school where flooding was a big issue.
- Construction of a toilet block at Kgwanyape kgotla for use by morafe during kgotla meetings.
- Promoting sports by sponsoring soccer tournaments in the ward for the past two years.
- Innitiated formation of drama groups in the ward.
- Ensuring Independence Day is celebrated annually at Kgwanyape kgotla.
- Continuously consulting with community through kgotla meetings
It is a pity that I got elected into this position at a time when the economy was not doing well, But I have been able to achieve more with little.
What advice would you give young people who are interested in going into politics?
Do not go into politics for employment. Go into politics becuase of a desire to serve.
What are some of the challenges you face and how do you deal with them?
- Some good ideas that I have cannot be funded by government because of budgetary constraints, primarily due to the global economic meltdown. In some instances I approach the private sector to assist.
- Reluctance by community members in taking part in developmental issues of their area.
- Dependency syndrome and the spirit of entitlement are a major problem. People have thrown away the spirit of self reliance, But I continue to preach self upliftment to them.
What are your hobbies? What do you do to relax and take a break from the office?
- I am a passionate writer
- I love traveling
- I read a lot to keep myself informed about what is happening around the world
- I don’t play any sports at the moment, but I love watching soccer
How do you couple being a businessman, father, husband and politician? Do you ever feel like you have a lot on your plate?
Political office, especially at local level is quite a demanding role, but it becomes even more daunting if you are a family person. The community you represent and your family, both need your attention. It therefore calls for good planning and good time management to strike a balance. My family comes first in everything. My 5 year old daughter can chant BCP slogans and she identifies with the party. It is important that she knows that politics is part of daddy’s life.
As for the farming business, I have set up systems in place that makes it easier to run it. I stay on the farm with my family and that allows me to monitor things better.
What do you think about Botswana Politics? If things were to go your way what would you change in the system?
Botswana politics have come of age. It has evolved. It is comforting that many Batswana are now politically conscious, though I feel there is still that lack of interest in some quarters, especially the youth. The level of political tolerance in the country is what has kept us together to this end. I always say, in this country we don’t have political enemies, but opponents. That makes politics beautiful. Our politics are not that dirty.
There are however a number of areas that need to be addressed in our politics:
- The issue of direct election of the president is long overdue. Our constitution gives the president enormous powers therefore, it is important for him or her to be answerable to the electorate, he/she should be elected popularly.
- One other issue is the system we have adopted as a nation, that of first past the post. We need to change to a system that will enhance our democracy. Proportional representation system will ensure that representation in parliament is truly reflective of the will of the people.
- Political funding is one other issue that need to be addressed. Democracy does not live on oxygen as the BDP seem to believe, it should be financed. In this country we finance democracy from our pockets.
What are your thoughts about the upcoming election? What do you predict is going to happen and are you going to be running again?
The upcoming election is going to be the most interesting election ever. There is a lot of excitment already. The BDP is facing its greatest challenge ever. A lot of factors will come into play. For the first time, worker have vowed to teach the BDP a lesson for failing to address their conditions of service. Failure by government to address continous power outages; water crises; declining quality of education; BMC scandal; BDC scandal Morupule B scandal; general corruption, are issues that will haunt the BDP going into the next election.
My prediction is that the BCP is the party to watch. If it can’t topple the BDP in this election, it will surely get seats in parliament in the region of 20. That will then set the stage for a complete takeover in 2019. The BCP has demonstrated a level of steadiness currently absent in other formations. It has presented itself as the only credible alternative to the BDP.
Yes, I will be running. I will be defending my seat under the BCP ticket.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
On the political front, I have a goal of taking the area I represent to greater heights. I also want to expand and solidify my business!
Any final thoughts you would love to share with young people in Botswana?
To the youth I say, you hold the key to change! You can be your own liberators. Go and register in large numbers and vote in next year elections. Vote for a government that truly have your aspirations at heart.