In January 2019, President Mokgweetsi Masisi caused quite a stir amongst the ruling party when he appointed little known Kagelelo Banks Kentse, to head the BDP’s Communications Committee.
Upon assuming the role, Kentse pledged to make BDP ‘fashionable again’.
A successful general election followed but more recently the party’s popularity appears to be on the wane as an increasing number of disillusioned citizens take to social media to voice their displeasure at government.
The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA once again caught up with Kentse to find out what’s going wrong…..
You have been Chairman of Communications for over two years now, how’ve you found it?
I was welcomed back into BDP from BMD in May 2018 and in January 2019 I was appointed into this position; it was a big surprise for me. I have learnt a lot. It comes with a lot of pressure so you need to remain calm and focused. I also realised that the position is very demanding, both from Democrats and the media but I had to adjust very fast.
Demanding in what way?
I mean, immediately after I took over we had to prepare the manifesto and its launch, then there was Kang Congress, National Congress in Mochudi and elections – the most challenging being the campaign in 2019 for the general elections. It was very intense and demanding for the party!
When we spoke shortly after your appointment, you pledged ‘to make the BDP attractive again’ – do you feel you’ve achieved this?
We definitely did, proudly so. If you look back at 2019 we had a very good campaign. For the first time in a very long time we had youth associate publicly with the BDP, our merchandise was fashionable and likeable, so on that part we did very well. We intend to launch more attractive programs especially for our youth, women and the working class.
At the time you also highlighted the importance of winning the war on social media. After initial success, it seems the situation has once again regressed – what happened?
We gained some confidence during the 2019 campaign and it worked very well for us. I do, however, admit that since the emergence of Covid-19, which came with lockdowns, curfews, loss of incomes and business, this has really affected Batswana and most are really depressed and obviously quick to blame the government. The frustrations around unemployment are taking a toll on our people and we need to act drastically.
Some think we have not achieved anything that we promised but we actually have, perhaps as a government we do not communicate these well enough. Now most people are taking their frustration to social media.
Unemployment remains a challenge, what needs to be done?
It’s a huge challenge. It needs all the relevant stakeholders to come together and come with tangibles. Government alone will not cope, the private sector plays an important role. We also need to invest more on sectors that have potential to create jobs such as arts, agriculture, manufacturing, ICT. There is also an issue of skills mismatch that must be addressed. We need to RESET and call a Jobs Summit.
Your office has come in for severe criticism regarding mistakes when issuing Press Statements – why not engage an expert before releasing such?
We continue to learn from our mistakes, if any; life itself is a learning journey. Most of the backlash we received were statements issued in reaction to what the former President would have said. We have noted that some within the BDP do not want Khama to be called to order and this was discussed at Central Committee. As for opposition activists, I think that’s a given.
SOPE and curfews, why are they still enforced?
This is an engagement between the Executive and the Presidential Task Team with what they believed would help manage the spread of the disease. They will be better placed to give more insight on that.
There are allegations that you bad-mouthed some BDP leaders to HE, kindly clarify?
This is a very unfortunate statement and it has been spread within the BDP like veld fire. First, President Masisi must be respected, has no time for that. He is a President and a very busy man but this was created so that I will be isolated from Democrats ka nne gotwe ke batla go SG. But also to try to frustrate me as Communications Chair and I have brushed those aside and focused on what I have been asked to do. History will judge me.
You were once touted as the BDP SG, what happened?
I’m not sure who manifested this idea but I suspect the late Rose (MHSRIP). She knew how to sow seeds of discord in friendships so the plan was to pit me against current SG Mpho Balopi. I must admit it did some damage but at the time I made it clear that I am not contesting for SG, even today I am not. I personally believe that the BDP SG must be full time at Tsholetsa to ensure smooth running of party operations at Head Quarters and keep structures intact and active. So at a time when I am ready, I will announce.
Having risen swiftly up the BDP ranks, do you harbour ambitions of standing for parliament?
Yes I do. But I am not in a hurry to go to parliament; I want to learn more within the BDP.