Molefe: A case of an iron fist in a velvet glove

BY SHINGIRAI MADONDO

Tebogo Hilda Molefe, the newly unveiled Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Youth League (YL) president, has become the first-ever female politician to hold the position in Botswana and the rest of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

 

The 33-year-old Ramotswa-born sassy lady ascended to the position following the resignation of Macdonald Chilliboy Rakgare. Rakgare relinquished his position after he was hired by Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), an organization that does not tolerate active political activism.

 

When compared to her predecessors in Rakgare and Selibe-Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse, Molefe has been dismissed with some quarters as trying to fill shoes that seem too big for her.

 

Some have viewed her as a too quiet person for an organization that is known to be endowed with speechifying and outspoken individuals. However, BCP President Dumelang Saleshando described her as a humble but sharp minded person when unveiling her in Francistown recently.

 

Saleshando described her as “honest, serious and modest” saying Molefe, a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education holder from the University of Botswana, has got a steely side.

 

“It is a case of an iron fist in a velvet glove,” he said. “Behind the apparent flexibility, faintheartedness and seemingly unobtrusiveness, she likes to get her way,” added the towering Saleshando.

 

Echo News’ SHINGIRAI MADONDO then tracked down the pintsized politician and had the following interview:

 

You seem very quiet but you have ascended to a position that demands people who seem to be outspoken. Are you humble or quiet?

I was taught that humility is not a weakness but a strength that will earn you respect. So I am humble but not quiet. I have been a leader in BCP and my contribution earned me the trust. I don’t have to be too excited to lose focus.

 

Who is Tebogo Molefe? 

Tebogo Hildah Molefe was born at Bamalete Lutheran Hospital in Ramotswa and grew up in Mogobane Village. [I] schooled in Mogobane from primary up to junior secondary and finished my Form 5 at Moeding College. [I am] 33 years of age. [I am] working as an Executive Assistant in a law firm in Gaborone.

 

What is your feeling after becoming the first female BCPYL president and political youth leader in the country let alone SADC?

I am very happy that BCP is living up to its principles of recognizing women in leadership positions not only by talking. Of course this is an encouragement to all females in SADC. I'm glad to be a member of BCP and trust that more women will soon fill the 30 percent set for female positions in the party of choice.

 

You are surrounded by men, do you think your work will be easy? 

My male colleagues in the party have been very supportive to me when I was Youth chairperson so I don't doubt them in my new role because they were always in the party even when I ascended to the presidency. And I don’t have to feel intimidated because of my gender. My male colleagues are very supportive and encouraging.

 

Do you think you have the acumen to push for things to happen despite resistance? 

I am more of a team player than individualistic, so I strongly believe that working as a team will simplify most tasks for me. It is also good that the party leadership is never far away from us when we need guidance. And like I said my humility is my strength, and people are always resistant to change, but at the end they adapt. It is also important to note that as a leader and politician, one should listen to advice, and receive constructive criticism from comrades and members of the public.

 

What can you tell a girl child out there?

Girls out there should know that you need passion and determination to accomplish your mission. They need to study and work hard to be recognized. They should not ignore current affairs and political issues. They should equip themselves with knowledge so that they are not left out.  In politics you also need family support and a role model in tackling issues.