Fearless on the Front Line
As of 20 past one on Tuesday afternoon, the total number of deaths attributed to Coronavirus stood at 119, 686.
The pandemic has literally brought much of the world to a standstill, with countless nations around the globe going into lockdown.
In many places, the desperation and darkness has bought out the best in some corporate companies and individuals, who have risen to the occasion by donating funds and food hampers.
In Botswana, 44-year-old father-of-three, Raymond Malinga will go down in history as one such selfless soul who led the fight on the front line.
The Marobela born former Science teacher has volunteered the services of his cleaning company, Nolly Crafts, disinfecting public transport and trucks going in and out of the country.
The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA caught up with Malinga this week to find out a bit more about the initiative and the hero behind it.
Who is Malinga?
I am a single father of three kids: two girls, Violet aged 15, Ndada, 11 and a boy, Tinashe, seven. But apart from that I am a seasoned businessman who amongst his education boasts a COP in Insurance, Proficiency Certificate in Microsoft and various certificates on entrepreneurship.
I am a co-founder and partner at Nolly Crafts, a company that has amongst its entities: Micro Finance Consultancy, Long and Short term Insurance, Nolly Firm Labour Relations and HR Nolly Cleaning Services.
I understand you have quite the history as a unionist; take us through the journey and where it all started.
The militant in me started way back when I was Vice President at Tonota College of Education in 1998. I was convinced by the likes of Eric Ditau and Justin Hunyepa, who were leading the unions and in 2005 became Jwaneng BOSETU Regional Chair 2005, BOSETU Recording Secretary 2008, BOSETU Secretary for Sports and Culture 2010 and BOSETU Publicity Secretary 2011 to 2012. I was prominent in mobilising the 2011 strike and at some point had a heated debate both in print and broadcast media with Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi when he was the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.
Last year there were reports that you were eyeing the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Deputy Secretary General position. Is there any truth to this and if so why that position in particular?
For the whole of my life as a teacher my role was to mobilise, build structures and educate teachers on trade unionism. This is what always leads me to being asked to lead. My track record speaks volumes as I consider myself a people-centred leader. This is the gap I am also trying hard to see closed at BDP; the people must be led by those who live like them, those who have the same challenges. I see myself more inclined towards the people.
What is it that you want to achieve within the BDP?
Like I did at trade unions, the first point of call is to build the structures, start from the bottom and move all the way to the top. The SG can be a busy man but the DSG must be available to build the cells, the branches, the regions and the party as a whole. We cannot relegate the running of the party to the last year of elections. The party machines must run daily. Activities, mobilisations, recruitments and training must be a daily task.
We also had a manifesto that to me was achievable if it was not for Covid-19. But yes, we still have a chance to sort stuff out. I believe strongly in the leadership of Dr Masisi and I agree more than anyone that with enough support he can move us from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Not only that, I believe the transformation of Botswana from a middle-income economy to a first world-class economy can be achieved now. To me we have the right political will to find our space as a country in this fourth industrial revolution. This is why I want to be the BDP DSG.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has seen you and your company leading from the front. What motivated such generosity?
I think it’s just choosing to lead at a time of great challenge; this is what has always defined me. Coupled with the fact that I am a seasoned Science teacher and my project on my final year was on chemicals that kill Bacterial, Fungus and Viruses! I chose to lead the fight from the front and offer to the fight what God has naturally given me, which is a talent I shall carry to the grave. I have chosen that what I am gifted in and what my country has spent educating me on can only be planted back into the community. You must take note of the fact that Nolly was a cleaning company way before Covid-19 was an issue. To us, we have always approached cleaning in a realistic approach, which has always been associated with chemical production and cleaning in relation to germs. Nolly Cleaning Service was first registered in 2018 and to date we have 60 active employees across the country.
Kindly share with us your day-to-day work.
We supply sanitisers and disinfectants but mostly we have gone a step further and provide fumigation of all germs from surfaces including the Covid-19 virus. We fight the coronavirus from all surfaces, desks, tables, handles, seats, buildings, cars you name it.
Across the globe, we have seen many on the front line who are exposed to the virus falling ill. How protected are you?
I can say we use the right protective clothing in all our duties; we cannot take that risk!
“We will win this fight but the way we currently behave and the way I still see people all over, I doubt it will be any time soon. We may end up needing a lockdown for 12 months!”
Which regions have you covered so far?
We have covered Mamuno, Ramatlabama, Lobatse, Tlokweng and all major borders linking Botswana with Zimbabwe and Zambia. Although the private sector did offer us some paying job we have extended our services for free to government and the general public to the tune of over P550, 000.
And your next destination?
Having done the District Commissioner’s offices where people were crowding for permits, our next destination will be clinics, hospitals and schools if resources permit.
How have the public responded to your initiative?
Batswana do appreciate our efforts. We receive endless encouraging messages across the country.
Whilst you have been offering your services for free, others are actually receiving tenders to carry out such work. How does that make you feel?
Let God be the judge and let Batswana be saved. Our efforts shall be recognised even if it’s not soon. Jesus was never rewarded in his entire life but today he remains a household name!
Do you see us winning the fight against this scourge and how long do you think it will take?
We will win this fight but the way we currently behave and the way I still see people all over I doubt it will be any time soon. We may end up needing a lockdown for 12 months! People don’t want to stay home and the more they travel the more they risk spreading the virus. Government must come up with strict measures to curb unnecessary movements.
Friday is finally here, what are your plans?
If it was ‘before’ I could be going out with friends to pass time or taking out my small family. But now we have lost touch with time and to us there is no Monday or Friday, we are always busy at work!