INTERVIEW: Tshepang & Politics in Botswana

My name is Tshepang Mogwera, I am a 21 year old Ohio University graduate and I hold BA degrees in Economics and Global Studies. 

Q As a young person, what are your views on politics and their importance in our society? 
A Everything is political! Politics permeate every facet of our society, including our social experiences and the economy; we are thus affected directly and indirectly by the policies adopted, and decisions made by our governments. In order for any state or institution to thrive, the internal and external politics must be conducive to achieving their goals. That is politics and it is an inextricable part of society. The water and power crises we are currently experiencing in Botswana? – They are political. In light of this, I think it is imperative that the youth not only educate themselves, but participate in politics as well. We currently have low youth participation as well as representation in Botswana. 

Q Do you think politicians and the current political climate are helping the youth develop in any way? If not, please elucidate further. 
A The youth constitutes about 60% of the population but our representation does not reflect this. Although this can be attributed to the attitude of adultism in our society, the apathy among youth towards politics also plays a role. In the same breath though, I believe that given its mandate to promote youth participation in socio-economic development of our country, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture does have good programs to try to develop the youth. In politics as well, youth leagues try to advance matters that pertain to the youth. More work needs done though as it is not enough to merely have initiatives if they are not executed well, or legislation that protects the interest of the youth without the necessary tools to enforce that legislation. 

Q In your view, is the playing field equal for both men and women within the political sphere? 
A Absolutely not! Not in Botswana or across our borders. The political sphere is dominated by men and the patriarchal culture we live in perpetuates this dominance. It is even in our language - “Ga di nke di etelwa ke manamagadi pele” an adage that can be loosely translated to “women do not lead” If we, both men and women, subscribe to this, it is little wonder there is so little women participation in politics. Of the 63 members of parliament, we currently only have 5 women representatives, in a country that is majority women. We have to deliberately work towards dismantling barriers (culture, resource access, etc), and implementing policies and structures that will level out the playing field and encourage and enable more women to participate in politics. 

Q How do you see the political future of our country within the next ten to fifteen years? 
A This is a tough one for me. I am not equipped with what it takes to make an informed political analysis and say what could become of Botswana’s political climate. Looking at the past elections, however, where the ruling party was elected by less than half of the voters, and seeing the opposition garnering more following and support, I think that in the coming elections, the opposition to the current ruling party may win the elections. With regards to women participation, it is my hope that more affirmative action policies will be drawn up by political parties and adhered to, to achieve gender equality. If the increased talk of inclusion of women in politics is to go by, we could possibly be headed towards more representation by women.

An interview conducted under the Voices of Batswana Youth project created by Ms. Nozizwe W. Ntesang.