Seleke-Motsu Epitome of hard work passion
23 Mar 2022
It took a lot of scheduling, postponing and rescheduling to finally secure an appointment with Dr Rachel Seleke-Motsu.
“Let’s meet tomorrow at exactly 8 am,” that was her initial response during the first call, but the ‘tomorrow’ only materialised about a week later.
“You will pardon me, I really have a tight schedule,” she offered an instant apology when we finally met, but not before an urgent phone call pulls her away from the office for a few minutes.
One would wonder who really this incredible female executive is. She has recently been appointed the first female superintendent for Jwaneng Mine Hospital, a befitting achievement as she continues to move the needle and make way for others in her wake.
Born and bred in Mochudi, 43-year-old Dr Seleke-Motsu describes herself as ‘Mokgatla thoo thoo”, a phrase that the tribesmen often use to indicate pride in their unquestioned belonging.
A firstborn in a family of three siblings, her journey to the top is not a result of the gender card, but hard work.
“I am not an individual that believes a position should be given on favouritism, just because you are a woman or you living with disability should not advantage you over the more deserving individuals,” she states.
Like one African proverb which advises that ‘A smooth sea does not make a skilful sailor,’ so is Dr Seleke-Motsu’s belief about positions of responsibility.
Dr Seleke-Motsu believes her star rose higher whBs offered at the hospital was her responsibility.
This, in short, meant being a supervisor of all the clinical staff in the hospital.
“That was a very busy period for me. I even had to sacrifice at the family level by relocating my kids to Gaborone because I rarely had time for them, which had its own stress. I could not help with homework or do normal parenting tasks because I was always busy with COVID-19 issues.
However, I am happy because the period tried and tested me as a leader. Sometimes I wonder where I got the drive to do all that I did, against all those odds,” she said with a content smile.
She takes pride in the fact that the hospital laboratory became the first institution to be accredited to conduct the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test besides the national laboratory, a feat that came in handy nationally as the hospital lab managed to relief the national one.
She said this was also a time when employees needed courage to soldier on.
“COVID-19 was new and so it was a challenge even to the health professionals to see people dying daily. It was a period whereas a leader, you had to show two faces; be strong before supervisees and cry alone at a corner,” she said.
She indicated that being the first female in the position does not bring any pressure on her shoulders, but just feels natural.
“I have been working for this company for enough time to know its culture. I know it demands excellence and that suits my personal character and I have no anxiety whatsoever. I never approach a role on gender mentality, that will be a personal limitation,” she said.
She also attributes her glove fit to the position to the fact that she has taken a variety of short courses in leadership.
Now that she is at the helm of the hospital, where does she plan to take it?
“I have great belief in local empowerment. I believe that as a hospital we are very capable, so I want to harness all the skills and resources we have here to ensure that we cut on the number of referrals to Princess Marina Hospital. We so need to capacitate ourselves in handling emergencies, especially looking at our location along the Trans Kalahari Corridor.
If it takes it, we will have to bring a variety of specialists here to help that course,” she said.
Dr Seleke-Motsu desires that the hospital carries out outreach programmes to communities in its environs. Her journey to the position of responsibility has been in the making ever since her school days.
Having completed her senior secondary with flying colours, her performance attracted the attention of Debswana Diamond Company, which sponsored her to do her A-Levels at Maruapula in Gaborone.
After completing her A-Levels she went to Saba University School of Medicine at the Caribbean island of West Indies where she graduated with Doctor of Medicine in 2006.
Dr Seleke-Motsu indicates that because of the diversity of the university, she was allowed to do her practical almost anywhere she preferred, which presented an opportunity to practice in various countries such as the United States, Ireland and South Africa.
“It is in South Africa’s Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital where I felt I really learnt my medicine because the hospital is always busy and you get to learn a lot practically,” she says, fondly recalling an incident where she was just pulled into a maternity ward to do a delivery despite having no experience in that field.
After completing her medical certificate, Dr Seleke-Motsu started working at Princess Marina Hospital as an intern doctor, before joining the Botswana-Baylor Children’s clinic where she mostly did research and clinical care and started the family clinic model.
Being the one to always thirst for experience and knowledge, she later jumped at an opportunity to join the Botswana Prisons Service when they wanted to hire a doctor, a first by the disciplined force, under the infectious diseases control centre.
“Although I was hired to head the IDCC, I ended up doing everything because they did not have any other doctor. I expanded the clinic service offering to include dental services and embarked on the SMC drive. By the time I left, we had circumcised about 800 inmates, contributing to the national SMC campaign. The overall aim was to ensure prisoners’ health is not jeopardized by their incarceration” she said.
Dr Seleke-Motsu says the nature of the prison’s services as a disciplined force perhaps helped her fit easily at Debswana when she joined as a medical officer in 2013.
Dr Seleke-Motsu, who also holds a Masters in Family Medicine from Stellenbosch University in South Africa and currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration, says one of the achievements she holds dearly is co-authoring an award-winning safety leadership article: Operation Safe Botswana that saw Jwaneng mine health services being selected runners up in the Anglo group’s inaugural Albert Milton Safety Awards out of more than 100 entries.
A bookshelf stacked with books at a corner and a few random pictures of awards the hospital has achieved somehow tell a story about her passion for knowledge and achieving excellence.
Dr Seleke-Motsu, like the philosophical great, Socrates, believes that ‘True wisdom lies in knowing that you know nothing’ which explains her constant pursuit of knowledge.
Before she rushes to her next meeting, Dr Seleke-Motsu’s advice to women is to not wait for favours under the gender card, and that in empowering the girl-child, care should be taken not to disadvantage the boy-child.
“I have a virtual meeting that started 30 minutes ago, but I tendered an apology that I will only join them later,” she states as she pulls her laptop to complete another item for the day. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : Olekantse Sennamose
Location : JWANENG
Event : INTERVIEW
Date : 23 Mar 2022