Son of the soil

Kagiso Ntime is all talk, and all action to back it up. From corruption, land, democracy, poverty to governance, he has spoken about it all. He is the man at the Center of the Julius Malema versus President Khama controversy regarding regime change and is the first President of Botswana Youth Parliament, the very President who refused to use the Holy Bible when he was sworn in and insisted on using the Koran. He has an independent approach when it comes to politics and does not just go with the flow. FRANCINAH BAAITSE spoke to the vibrant Botswana National Front Youth President to find out what really drives him.

Q. Thank you for your time Mr Ntime. You are well known around the country but I would like you to introduce yourself for the benefit of this interview.
My name is Kagiso Nazrullah Ntime. Born Peace Nazrullah Khan in Molepolole.

Q. Talking of the Khans, your name reminds me of the 2004 incident when you refused to take publicly take an oath using the holy Bible.  Will you still do the same today?
I am a Muslim and was born in a Muslim family. I grew up around a lot of Khans who were Muslims although my father was a Christian. I was showing the leadership that as youths we come from different backgrounds and that should be respected. To answer your question, yes.

Q.  So everything about you is strictly Muslim?
No, my father is a Christian and I do visit churches. As a leader I have been invited to many churches and I hold nothing against Christianity.

Q. Does it mean you can marry a Christian?
It would depend on fate. There are lots of inter-marriages and my religion does not govern me.  I was raised in a Muslim family but the other part of my family follow Christianity.

Q. Have you found that someone special?
I am single and fate has its course.

Q. You were not only raised in a Muslim home, but in a very political family. Could this have had any influence in the way you view issues?
Yes, I was born in a purely political family. Like my father I entered Politics at a very tender age. My father joined BNF  when he was still very young. He is the one who lobbied Mahummed Khan (Two times Parliamentary candidate-Molepolole North) into the BNF. We are politicians, the Khans and the Kablays of Molepolole hold different Political positions and we are related.

Q. Your father was one of the founders of the National Democratic Front. Didn’t you feel betrayed when he left you at BNF?
Not at all. You see, my father and I have political independence. We debate issues and each one of us take their stand. He was actually the founding Chairperson of NDF and Dr Kenneth Koma’s closest ally. They traveled places together hence Koma was like a grandfather to me because I grew up around him.

Q. Koma was the founder of BNF and although he was partly blamed for its breakup that led to the formation of NDF he was respected for his political foresight. Is there anything that you learnt from his leadership skills?
A lot of things. He had his own weaknesses but the man was well read. He had an amazing political prophecy. When he made a prediction it came to pass. Look at what is happening right now. He spoke about the coming of the political cooperation and tried it several times though it failed. He even wrote about it. He said there will be a time when parties will come together to fight for a common cause regardless of their political background, whether socialists, liberals or democrats. He called it a democratic revolution.

Q. Words like revolution, struggle and the like make people think of war and blood shed and are commonly used in war torn countries. Don’t you think the leftist language has a potential to bring fear and cause the people to draw back their support?
People don’t understand. Leftist ideology isn’t about that. It talks equality. When you talk revolution, people think guns, no it is different. Revolution is about change for the better. It addresses issues of economic imbalances such as the one featured in last week’s issue of The Voice. The story about the money for a clap was a typical example of how people can be manipulated simply because they have to make a choice between missing three meals in a single day and getting a clap.

When we talk about the struggle we mean people should democratically benefit from what rightfully belongs to them. They should be able to get land and every household should be able to feed itself.

This country needs a political direction, a national democratic revolution. What we are basically calling for is radical societal transformation, equality for all. It sounds like a big word but it is as simple as that.

Q. Talking is much easier that action Mr Ntime, now you tell me, if you were to be a President for one day, what would you change?
I wont sleep that day. I would go over all economic policies and redraft them all. All problems faced by this country are because of the economy. HIV/AIDS problems and other ills and malarkey we are facing today are economic ills.

Q. According to you then, economy is the argument of everything?
Yes. When we talk economy, we talk the bread and butter issues of our people. It’s all about money. People do ask themselves, “when I get up in the morning, what am I going to have for breakfast? What will my family have for supper?” hence we are saying it is very important for every household to be economically empowered. Inequality breeds grievous deeds where those with money can bribe their way to the top and the poor remains poorer and denied access to resources.

Even the coming population census results would prove that there is a lot of inequality practices going on in this country in terms of land ownership. The youth are most disadvantaged.

Q. But you had the privilege of being a President of the youth Parliament in 2004. Given the platform, why didn’t you address these issues then?
We did talk about these issues and I am happy that most of the things we discussed then were incorporated into the current national youth policy, including the age of maturity which has since been reduced from 21 to 18.

 Q. Understandably, you refused to read the speech, which was approved for you by the then President, Festus Mogae, how then did you expect to work together with such powerful people?
The Parliament was for the youth not government. Yes I put the speech aside and prepared mine because the debates were supposed to be independent. When you look at it, the Parliament was created just a few months before the general elections and the BDP (Botswana Democratic Party) government wanted to manipulate it to further its political agenda. But unfortunately for them, it happened that I won the Presidency. The BDP knowing my history, coming from an opposition family and a student leader at the University of Botswana and the then chairperson of the Southern African Students Union, they knew it was difficult for them to manipulate the Parliament for their agenda.

When the session came to an end, I was approached by Ronald Sebego, now late, and said if I joined the BDP, then they could make me a specially elected MP. I turned them down, because that is not the kind of politician I wish to be.

Q. Talking of UB, when you were an SRC member around 2002, there were a series of strikes that even forced the University to close at some point?
True, I was almost expelled two months before completing my degree because the UB management thought we wanted to burn down the Institution. The truth is that it was never our intention but we did tell Khama that, if we were to be expelled, then the fire will burn. I believe President Khama, then the Vice President saved me and the others allowed us to finish our education.

Q. You are grateful today, but yesterday, you spoke ill of him and put Botswana in a limelight when you spoke bad about his leadership deficiencies and called for regime change. As a result  youth leader of the African National Congress in South Africa has done the same. What is your defence to that?
I don’t owe the President any favours. What I was criticizing is changing of goal posts when he says one thing today and the next tomorrow. Those who have been following news consistently know I was invited to the ANC youth congress and I spoke in my capacity as a BNFYL President. I addressed issues facing Botswana.

We have a hypocritic leader who likes criticizing for the sake of it. He had critisised Libya but I am still to be conveinced that the majority of his people are against him. All we are shown on television is a few rebels protesting. These are the very people who want to take control of the oil rich towns of Libya. I wonder if Khama would sit back and watch if Batswana were to take guns and threaten to take control of the diamond rich Jwaneng town? Can Khama allow us to do that, because that is what is happening in Libya.

Q. So what are your relations with ANC youth league and what do you say to their offer to help change Botswana’s government regime?
We are moving forward. We want to mobilize Southern African People. We have to help each other. I’ll be meeting them in due course. Malema is talking about nationalization of policies and equal distribution of resources and we are talking the same language.

: Kagiso Nazrullah Ntime
12 February 1979
Mercedes Benz
ROTI with seswaa, Bogobe with Madila

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