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Joy with Kenewendo

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She was appointed the country’s 21st female parliamentarian, becoming one of the youngest ever Members of Parliament when she joined the 10th sitting of the Botswana cabinet.

Next Tuesday, Bogolo Joy Kenewendo’s three-year term as Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP) comes to an end, at least for now.

Still only 32, she has endured the stress of leading the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry with dignity and maturity.

Kenewendo sat down with The Voice staffer SHARON MATHALA this week, reflecting on her journey, pondering the future and clearing up some of the rumors about her private life.
With a warm, open smile – no wonder they call her Minister Bae! -she ushers The Voice team into her office at the Ministry headquarters.


Thank you so much for having us Minister. Your term as a specially elected MP comes to an end this week.How have you found the three-year journey?


I have only had two roles really in the 11th parliament. I was a back-bencher when I first joined in 2016 as a specially elected MP and then as a full Minister. It has been one of the best journeys of my life and very challenging – very unexpected kind of challenges but of course very fulfilling challenges. I have made a lot of long lasting connections.

When did you learn that you had been chosen as a SEMP?

It was a journey! I was first told somewhere around July 2016, finalisation September 2016 and was sworn-in in October. I had time to think about it, time to prepare and time not tell anyone and be eaten up by keeping the secret because most of the people in my life only got to know as the rest of the world – on the day! But I atleast told some 30 minutes before going to parliament so some knew half-an-hour before!

When you were appointed Minister at just 31, were there any moments of doubt? Did you truly believe you were the right person for the job?

Being on the back-bench teaches one what running a government means. You have better insight and it prepares you for the things you would like to see change. By the time I was appointed Minister, as nerve-wracking as it was, I was prepared. Though there was a moment of hesitation, I eventually accepted the position.

You head one of Botswana’s busiest Ministries. How would you describe leading the Ministry, especially as a woman in a male dominated field?

Almost every sector is male dominated but more so in politics because in the private sector you do find a lot of women in leadership roles. There are few women in politics so the pool of choosing a role model proved quite difficult for me because throughout my development path I have used mentors to help balance and guide me. I needed to find the best performing male in the industry so that I could find their best qualities and mimic them.
It was a complex time. I was young and female so when you spend more time with a male it is automatically assumed you are ‘exchanging favours’. At some point I was accused of having slept with the entire cabinet!

Fear not, we will get to that Minister! You joined politics at a time when there was transition from one leader to another. Was that a tense period for cabinet ministers?

I didn’t really have that much time with the previous administration. I learnt to operate as a Minister in this space. I think the challenges were the same as someone getting into a role for the first time. It has been an interesting time for our politics and democracy as it matures and I hope we continue to preserve as a country of peace.

But it stands to reason that when there is a change in leadership, people try to align themselves with the incoming chief. Would you say that was the case?

This is my first time being a Minister. It has been really interesting being in cabinet and learning about the direction His Excellency the President wants us to take. The President is quite spontaneous in his thinking; sometimes you are given a task to do on the spot and we really had a tight schedule. We were working the weirdest of hours – it was really hectic!

You took charge of a Ministry at a tricky time when the western world had their beady eyes on Botswana because of the human/wildlife conflict issue and the furore surrounding the country’s elephants. Can you take us through that time?

When you speak of investment we did not really see much change in how people responded to our strategy on investor attraction. People actually became more interested in who we are as a country and the agenda we are trying to push. Our message was that as Batswana, we have always championed conservation and we continue to do so. The animals just became too many and they destroyed the environment and we needed to find a balance in the ecosystem.

Would you like to return for a second term as a specially elected member?

I serve at the pleasure of the President and if the BDP wishes so.

Are you confident?

I am not. Nothing is given in politics.

Were you touted to replace the now Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane in the Boteti West constituency under the BDP ticket?

I have never been tipped to. I am very passionate about where I come from. I have always been active in trying to assist where I come from and have companies be more responsible, especially those that are based there. Everywhere I go I like to learn before I can say ‘I am challenging’, so that when the time comes I am ready.

So do you harbor any ambitionof eventually contesting for elections?

I really do enjoy what I am doing and I would like to create more impact. So yes, I would like to run at some point. I can’t say it will be in Boteti. I have lived all over Botswana; as long as I have the pleasure and opportunity to serve Batswana I will do so!

Will that be in the 2024 general elections?

I do not count my chickens before they hatch! I am intently learning, especially as a woman in politics.

Should you not resume your ministerial role, what will your next move be?

The world is my oyster! So many things it could be. I will start thinking about opportunities. Having created such a fantastic network, I believe that will direct what is next for me.

As you briefly noted, there is much interest in your private life, particularly your close association with Minister, ThapeloOlopeng…..

I have known RreOlopeng for quite a bit of time, I think dating as far back as when he became the Minister of Youth. I was the chairperson of the youth sector in Business Botswana, so that is where we really started our friendship. When I became an SEMP he was one of the faces I had been with before, you tend to gravitate to familiar faces.RreOlopeng was the first person I met before I went to parliament as SEMP. He was a good friend and a mentor.

But the word on the ground was that you were more than colleagues?

It was quite unfortunate for our relationship to be then referenced into something else. We did talk about it because this is a man with an entire family. You need to know the implications of this to his life. Fortunately I did not have a family that I had to answer to. People don’t know the gravity such insinuations can have on people’s private lives, but he took it like the champ he is!

Of all the rumors, which one gave you sleepless nights?

I think the insinuation that women can only become something if they sleep with a man is completely wrong. It bothers me but I have grown to have thicker skin. However, what really bothers me is the young girls that look up to me constantly hearing that they have to ‘give it up’ in order to be successful. That notion limits girls from dreaming that they can break the ceiling.
It did not bother me until last week when a young girl approached me about this. It hurt me that she was put in a corner over misconceptions about me which I have not addressed.

And your alleged relationship with Masisi?


There is no truth in that and I have known about this rumor, but I would like to leave the President out of this. I have always kept it to myself but once young girls start to think that they are limited in what they can achieve I had to do something.

I heard that you meditate during your spare time. What else does the Honorable Minister get up to?

Oh! I have fun. I have little time for myself so I really go all out and have fun. I am young after all!

We are going into the general election next Wednesday. What message do you have for Batswana?

It is important that as we go through elections we remember why we are doing this, this journey of our independence and the journey of our democracy. We need to safeguard our Botswana and ensure that whatever the outcome is the decision is respected. But ofcourse, I will take this time to ask Batswana to vote for RreTsogwane and the President Masisi.

So, what will you be up to this Friday?

I will be in Orapa and Kumaga attending a Kgotla meeting with the President.

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Big players anniversary

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Big players anniversary

Francistown’s only high tech-games room, Big Players will celebrate its one year anniversary this Sunday at Tati River Mall.

Opened last year in December. The games room unit features games such as basketball, VAR/3D machines, a mini-park for children and a children’s casino that uses fake coins.

To celebrate their one year mile-stone, Big Players will bring kwasa-kwasa muso Franco and his band Afro Musica for the Sunday extravaganza.

There’ll be mystery draws for big gifts and a clown and face painting for kids.

Admission is P30, which will be given as a voucher to be redeemed at the end of the event.

Activities will start from 09:30 until 2100hrs.

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Shasha’s lizard moment

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She’s known across the continent as the beautiful voice on Samthing Soweto’s hit song “Akulaleki” and another smash hit Tender love featuring DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small.

She’s indeed the voice behind some of the most popular ‘Amapiano’ songs.

The Zimbabwean native from Mutare has collaborated with the best in the game such as Mlindo (Nge Thanda Wena) and jazz legend Don Laka.

Shasha recently dropped an EP titled Blossom which features the likes of DJ Maphorisa, Samthing Soweto and Kabza De Small.

The singing sensation will be at Lizard Entertainment this Friday and will share the stage with the likes of DJ Bunz, Kusterr, Dude and Chronic.

Entry is P40.

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Kicking for the girls

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Kicking for the girls

Transforming BW women’s football

In the history of football, women are rarely given a chance to showcase their talents when it comes to administration.

37-year-old Tsholofelo Sethoko is looking to change that.

In August, the Maun-native was named Head of Women Football in Botswana in an effort to resurrect the local ladies game.

Although performances on the pitch have been admirable – as evidenced by the senior national team’s Olympic qualifying victory over South Africa earlier this year – the sport has been crippled by a lack of finances.

Sethoko’s mandate is to come up with strategies to help women’s football regain its status.

Her impressive resume suggests she is the perfect individual for the job.

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from University of Botswana, Diploma in International Coaching in Hungary, FIFA Club Administrators Course, CAF Women Administrative Course, and FIFA Basic level for Coaches and Assistant coaches, FA Introduction to Coaching Girls and Women football, if Sethoko can’t do it, it’s hard to see who can!

Voice Sport’s Tshepo Kehimile kicked back with the great hope of local women’s football to discuss her journey to date and what to expect in the future.

Q. When did your passion for sport start?

I was born and raised into a football family. My father, Letlhogile Sethoko was a manager for Maun Tigers FC, which was a big club back in my youth days.

Attending football games was a norm every Saturday and Sunday as a family and my mother Dorcus Sethoko was one of the first female referees in Maun.

My parents are big supporters of Township Rollers – (laughing) I became an outsider and supported Notwane FC but that was the influence of working with Christopher Rabalago, who was a development coach there in 2003.

I must say he produced talented players like Letumile Molebatsi, Galagwe Moyana, Kereng Mpetang and Lemogang Maswena just to mention a few.

I was part of that youth development programme and the only female coach.

Q. What are your ambitions?

My enthusiasm and belief that football is for all took me to where I am today.

There was a lot of resistance as many believe a women’s place is in the kitchen; but I believe my place lies with my passion for anything I want to be in this world as a woman.

Dwayne Johnson once said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be ambitious about your goals, hard work never stops, neither should your DREAMS.’

Q. Who is your role model in terms of sports administration?

I look up to Ashford Mamelodi who is one of the best Football administrators we have in Africa.

His passion and dedication to the development of football is tremendous.

Please share your personal experience.

Being able to work with amazing football people who pushed me to the limit and made sure that there was a place for women in Botswana football.

I worked with great Premier League teams – Gaborone United and Notwane FC – and coaches like Major David Bright, China Odirile Matlhaku, Rasta Kgengwenyane, Christopher Rabalago and working with Technical Directors like Losika Keatholetswe, Sonnyboy Sethibe who believed I had what it takes to be a female coach/administrator pushed me even harder to make my mark in the sport industry.

I also I got the opportunity to work for one of the biggest fitness brand in Botswana at Virgin Active Health Club as the Fitness Manager for five years and there I got to learn a few skills in terms of administration affairs especially managing people, customer service, budgeting and leading just to mention a few which drilled me on how to become an effective manager.

Furthermore, I am working with the current BFA Technical Director, Serame Letsoaka, who has been guiding me since day one in my new post.

I believe what I am learning from him, I will use to achieve my goals, which are to bring positive value to my country.

I am excited with this new prospect because I am working directly with strong women like Tsoseletso Magang, who has achieved a lot in our local sports.

I am confident women’s football will go forward.

Q. How do you rate the standard of women’s football in Botswana?

I think the sport has grown over the years. This year, the girl’s impressive World Cup qualifiers performance was an example of growth in our football.

Even though the standard of football in Botswana is still low there is so much talent and positives, especially with 5 out of 17 regions in Botswana already playing in a leagues set up – which are Gaborone, Kweneng, Francistown, Boteti and Nhabe.

However, local women’s football is faced with serious challenges such as lack of interest from leadership, no database for players, coaches, referees and administrators, lack of funds and limited media coverage just to mention a few – hence it is difficult to proceed.

Q. What must be done to improve the standard?

Firstly, BFA in collaboration with FIFA has just finished a strategy plan for women in Botswana that will guide and give direction to women football.

The strategy has four priority foundations and they are as follows: Coaching and Capacity Building – undertaking the needs assessments of our local women football coaches and referees. Making sure there is a serious coach education programme for our coaches, who I believe are our custodians and play a big part in insuring there is development in our country.

Grassroots and Player Development – a player’s long-term pathway in the development of football is very important with appropriate age specific categories.

Making sure that we develop sustainable school football programmes with school of excellence centers equipped with highly skilled coaches plays a key tool to the development of women football in Botswana.

Grassroots development and youth leagues for U15 and U17 are a priority for me in my mandate to grow mass participation of women football in the country.

Structure and Administration- without trained regional administrators to administer the programmes then we have nothing.

BFA has been on a journey for the past few months with the ‘Time For Change’ training programme in different regions and Administrations Training as the core for the initiative in collaboration with Ashford Mamelodi in a movement to develop football Administrators.

I think this initiative will also benefit women football as we have women football administrators being trained in regions.

Changing Perceptions – education and awareness of women football is very important as we have to teach the nation in breaking the stereotype that football is for boys.

Everyone can play football, the young, old, girls and boys. One of the key objectives for FIFA is to make football accessible to all kids of all backgrounds.

Q. In your current post, what do you hope to achieve?

I would like to see the implementation of sustainable grassroots programs with highly trained coaches in the following schools of excellence for girls in the four blocks of Botswana being: Radisele Community Junior Secondary School (CJSS), Madiba Senior School, Tsabong Unified school and Mogoditshane Senior School and equipped with four secondment of national team coaches overseeing and monitoring the programs of the project to develop our girls.

This will be done to feed National Leagues and National teams.

Coaching and capacity building is another main concern for me as I have observed that 90 percent of coaches involved with women football are not qualified to be coaches for our football programs.

Having them trained is a priority! School Football is another area that can help our youth development for under 15 and 17 become successful.

Q. What is the future of local women’s football?

FIFA has taken two important steps for the continuous development of the women’s game beyond its flagship event.

First was the inauguration meeting of the FIFA Professional Women’s Football Task-force this year in France.

The objective of the task-force is to bring together the main women’s football stakeholders to inform FIFA’s decision making processes by identifying key areas and measures that can accelerate the future growth of women’s professional game.

FIFA has also increased finance by 20 percent for women football and to me this shows that the future is bright.

Q. What advice can you give to aspiring female footballers?

Every girl deserves a place to play football and every player deserves to strive for the impossible.

There should be no limitations, because women’s football is football for all and as BFA we commit to making a difference.

This journey is not only for the Association but for all stakeholders!

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday – what are your plans for the weekend?

I’ll be watching the Botswana Games as our women’s national teams are preparing for Under 17 and 20 World Cup qualifiers and most of our players will be taking part.

On Sunday it’s church.

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