Botswana has more than 200 former members of parliament including former cabinet ministers.
After the blow of being turfed out of constituencies, some are given ambassadorial posts and their names remain popular long after they have been voted out of power.
However some of these big names retreat to their little corners and their popularity wanes down over time as they while away time in the farming industry.
This week we catch up with some former members of Parliament to find out where they are now and what they get up to.
1. JACOB DICKIE RADICHELETE NKATE
Nkate is a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Ngami who served Ngami constituency from 1994-2009 when he lost elections to opposition.
He was one of the popular and influential MPs who had served in several ministries under former presidents, Festus Mogae and Ian Khama as well as at party level.
A factionalist at heart, his friends call him Ramma. Nkate became party Secretary General in 2007, taking over from retired Daniel Kwelagobe of Molepolole who became the country’s longest serving MP.
After losing the 2009 elections Nkate was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) before the then president, Ian Khama sent him to Japan as an ambassador
Having served as a Secretary General for BDP before, he tried his luck again for the same position following his return from Japan in 2017, but lost to Mpho Balopi amid speculations that he had fallen out with president Masisi’s camp.
“I was sent on an ambassadorial post but returned to Botswana on my own accord. I wanted to do other things and I have no regrets. I am still very much active and would be glad to take any other assignment for the nation that may come my way,” Nkate explained this week.
An attorney by profession, Nkate is currently running a law firm in Gaborone and involved in tourism.
“I spend time in Gaborone but I do travel to Maun every now and then because I am involved in the tourism industry. I am involved in a company called Kgori Safaris and I do run a small law firm office in Gaborone, as you know I am an attorney. I am currently practising law at J.D Nkate-attorneys.”
2. LESEDI MOTHIBAMELE
Having served in Parliament and cabinet under the BDP for 25 years, Mothibamele lost primary elections to Mokgelele Moapare in 2004.
Moapare however lost the general elections the following year to opposition Botswana National Front’s Obakeng Moumakwa.
Reached for comment this week, the former MP for Kgalagadi constituency said in between giggles, “I am alive, well and kicking.”
The former MP explained his journey of life outside Parliament as one of a survivor. “I have been a pastor for UCCSA church; Kang branch but I have now retired (In 2017).”
Mothibamele further explained that soon after losing elections he enrolled at Kgolagano Bible College in Tlokweng and learnt theology, “I started from scratch but went up to diploma level and went on to complete my degree at the University of North West, Mafikeng campus and on completion I was given a church to lead,” he said
Currently he is focused on farming. “I drink milk and butcher a cow or goat when in need of meat, so I am comfortable, I am healthy.”
He also serves as the chairperson of BDP’s former MPs, which is a pressure group that keeps the government of the day in check.
“We are basically advisors of the current members of the house,” explained Mothibamele.
He said this particular pressure group became active with the coming in of President Mokgwetsi Masisi who recognised and respected them.
“The group was there before, but was muted. So with President Masisi showing us support we became empowered and in fact he encouraged us to benchmark with similar groups in other countries.”
Mothibamele noted that although the general public may have forgotten them, Masisi leadership is keeping them on board. “They call us and they consult us, so we still make meaningful contribution from the sidelines,” he explained.
3. RONALD RIDGE
After serving a term in Parliament, Ridge lost the ruling Botswana Democratic Party primary elections in 2008 to the then new comer to politics, Tawana Moremi.
Ridge has since focused his attention on farming and real estate.
“There is a lot that one can do, besides politics. I am into farming, cattle ranching to be specific. I have tried crop production but because of problem animals such as elephants, it did not work. The place was overrun by elephants so I was basically producing crops for elephants so I gave it up.”
Ridge explained that he was more into dry land farming and produced sorghum, maize, beans and other related crops.
He however stated that if there were reliable water sources in the side of Maun where his field is located, he would venture into horticulture as elephants have since moved further into the Okavango Delta.
He also noted that his real estate business was not bad because it puts food on the table and keeps him afloat.
“I am surviving but the Property business is facing challenges at the moment. The property rental market has gone down because people no longer can afford it, businesses are closing down and property sale prices have drastically dropped,” he added.
Ridge is currently the secretary of BDP’s former MPs committee, which is chaired by Lesedi Mothibamele.
“Many former members of the house are suffering, some have close to nothing and that is why we formed a committee of former members of parliament, so that these issues can be addressed, to make sure that former Mps live a meaningful life after serving the nation. This committee includes all former MPs including those of opposition parties, but we do have another committee that is exclusively for BDP membership.”
Asked whether he has any intentions of coming back to active politics and why he had been backstage for long, Ridge explained that, “If the environment is right yes, I will make a come back. I have not been active because sometimes the political environment is too cloudy with a lot of scattered thunder storms so I had to escape the bad weather.”
4. COSTANTINOS MARKUS
Former assistant minister who served Parliament under Maun East constituency for a single term, Markus lost the last general elections to opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
He has since accepted defeat and decided to wait for 2024 for a comeback. “Last year October we went for elections unfortunately I did not make it to Parliament, UDC won. We accepted defeat, but we will see what happens in the coming general elections,” he said.
Currently Markus is based in Maun where he is running his businesses, a shopping mall and a hotel. “I run Parkview shopping centre and Parkview hotel together with my wife, Pearl Markus. That is how I am surviving. Remember I only went to Parliament for five years and I am back to my old lifestyle so life is basically the same except that I am no longer called honorable Member of Parliament but former MP.”
Markus has maintained that although he has intentions to return to Parliament, he is unable to declare it at this point I’m constrained to declare my interest because in BDP there is due process to follow before one can declare publicly that they will stand for elections, we have to wait for the central committee to make a call for show of interest first,” he said.