He is one of the youngest Ministers in the country’s history.
However, at the age of 36, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, McDonald Chilliboy Rakgare already boasts a rich political background.
From his days as the University of Botswana (UB) School Representative Council (SRC) President, to his vocal time as the Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL) President before joining the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Rakgare is well travelled in the world of politics.
The charismatic politician also has an insider’s understanding of the media, having worked for Yarona FM and Duma FM.
Ten years after it started, Rakgare’s political career reached new heights at last year’s general election, where he received 6, 350 of the 11, 116 votes casts to claim Mogoditshane constituency from the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
This week, Rakgare, in his capacity as a Minister, visited The Voice newsroom for a tete a tete with reporter SHARON MATHALA about the vision he has for the youth.
Mindful that some responsibilities will be lifted off his large Ministry with the introduction of two new Ministries, after exchanging pleasantries he shares…
Q. How would you summarise your political journey?
A. My political career kicked off when I was still a UB student back in 2009 and I subsequently joined the BNF.
I later resigned from BNF to BDP after a few differences.
With the BDP I believed in the leadership then of Rre Motswaledi, Ntuane and others.
I was with the youth committee and I differed on many occasions with the then President Ian Khama so I left.
Khama wanted to destroy our country and we now have our country back with President Mokgweetsi Masisi!
I then joined BCP, which was well organised.
I was with the BCP for six years and it really shaped me into the politician I am today.
Q. But why then leave the BCP? Did the party’s decision to join forces with the umbrella have anything to do with it?
A. In 2014 we differed with the UDC on principle as the BCP. Subsequent to that was the report of Rre Motswaledi and the UDC still failed.
Some things are internal but the UDC is not organised, its leader is not organised!
I had a serious problem because should Batswana vote for us we would have a problem of leadership.
Q. How would you describe the leadership skills of President Masisi?
A. Masisi has a love for the country. He is an intelligent man.
The BDP needed someone to appreciate the work of the elders and veterans.
The democrats are happy. They have renewed hope for the party. He runs the party with consultations and inclusion.
Q. Taking you back to when your win was announced for the parliamentary seat of Mogoditshane constituency. What was going through your mind?
A. Some said I did not show emotion. What was going through my mind was how I was going to take the constituency forward and the people who voted for me, how I will fulfill my promise and change their lives.
I knew I would win; the team had done its homework.
The people liked President Masisi, even from the Kgotla meetings one could see.
Q. But one can never be too sure in politics, what made you so confident of victory?
A. We went into the election with six incumbent councillors who had done pretty well.
But also our party manifesto spoke volumes towards the transformation Batswana and the people of Mogoditshane yearned for.
Q. Moving on, you were eventually appointed a Minister. Did you expect such an appointment?
A. I never expected it! It came as a surprise to me despite the background I have in sports and issues that affect the youth.
When I received the call and was summoned in to be told, the first thing I did was ask the President if I had heard him properly and he gave me a piece of paper to sign against my name.
I thought the President would go with someone more experienced but he knew what he wanted, and I guess that was me!
Q. You are taking over a position once held by heavyweights such as Tshekedi Khama and Thapelo Olopeng. Did that not shake you a bit?
A. Not at all, Rre Olopeng did his part but there are ways in which I look at things.
What we will do going forward is not about me.
I have an able team which I am confident will steer this ship forward.
Q. What is your vision for the Sports sector?
A. What we will do is give young people a platform.
Our youngsters are doing very well in different sporting codes.
The issue is to give them the right tools, the money.
We will resource our sporting codes; we will build the facilities and introduce sports and coaching at primary level.
If we want to compete with international stars we need to give our stars a fair chance.
Q. And as for the Arts?
A. We have young people who are creative and innovative.
We will support them fully.
We will capacitate them to create wealth and facilitate the process.
It is still a bit too early for me to go into detail but we do have a plan going forward – let’s have this conversation again in six months.
Q. Any international events planned for Botswana to host? I know the Forbes Under 30 Summit is coming to town in April, apart from that?
A. We have two in the pipeline.
I would not want to reveal which – we already have teams on the ground working around those.
I can assure you, they will be a first for Botswana!
Q. Sounds intriguing! How do you intend to address issues of alcohol and drug abuse amongst the youth?
A. About 60 percent of our population is made up of the youth and more than half of them are unemployed.
This you are likely to get as a government.
We as a government need to seriously introspect and come up with job opportunities for our youth but that is a long-term solution.
For now government will build a Rehabilitation Centre as well as be more visible in schools with campaigns and mentorship programmes.
Q. Is that not what the alcohol levy was for? Why is it taking such a long time to deal with this phenomenon?
A. That was the intention to have and build Rehab and Rehabilitation Centres with it, but that has not happened.
Q. What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
A. I would tell him he can be anything he wants.
You can be anything you want in life. Just focus.
Take every day as it comes – look at me, I am a full Minister!
Q. What can you say to the youth who abuse social media and in turn bully others?
A. I stand here as a Minister and I really don’t know what can be done.
I log onto social media everyday and it’s disheartening what I see.
I think its starts really from home.
We should start having the conversation with our kids at home around the use of social media.
Q. Do you still play football?
A. Of course! Yes I do, very much so.
I am a really good midfielder, I might add.
These days, however, they play me up front.
You should come watch one of the games.
Q. Apart from ministerial duties and scoring goals, what else do you get up to?
A. I spend time with family because honestly I hardly have any spare time.
I leave early for work and come back really late.
Q. Thanks God It’s Friday, what will you be up to this coming Friday?
A. I will be addressing a Kgotla meeting in Mogoditshane.
Q. Any parting words?
A. Well I will just say corruption has no place in the current administration.
The rot in Government is huge, people went all out to destroy our country and steal from us.
We are going to have an investigation.
There is something in the works which will assist us with this.