Nkate’s next move

Jacob Nkate is no stranger to the limelight. His former roles include Secretary General of the Botswana Democratic Party, Minister of Education and CEO of BIDEA.

In 2012 his future in politics appeared to be over when he became Botswana’s ambassador to Japan, leaving the country under a dark cloud of ‘blunders’ and ‘controversy’.

Nkate returned home at the end of last year, seemingly rejuvenated and desperate to play a leading role in the BDP’s future.

This week, The Voice reporter Sharon Mathala sat down for a heart-to-heart with the qualified lawyer who could potentially become the next President of Botswana.

Q. Your return to Botswana from Japan has been filled with a lot of speculation about your next move.
Can you share with our readers if any of those are true, especially in relation to the BDP top post?

Presidency is still pretty much way too far off for a clear and final declaration to be made now.

I came here not big headed enough to think whatever I want goes! I came to consult with other democrats and Batswana in general.

For now, since we are looking at the special congress of the BDP, that decision will come at the right time.

Q. But are you going to stand for the BDP chairmanship? Can you make that point clear please Sir?

I have never hidden my aspirations – meaning, should the opportunity rise, I will not shy away from challenging for that position.

Q. There is a lot of speculation about who you are going to liaise with, about certain factions within the BDP approaching you – is any of this true? More specifically, have you met with Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi

A lot of people want to talk to me. At this point I will not be able to confirm whether he wants to speak to me or not. I can confirm that I haven’t met with him for now.

Q. But is the BDP torn between rallying behind yourself or Masisi for presidency?

There are many potential aspirants to the position, either of chairman or president.

Q. There are talks of possible tribalism within the BDP, where there is the general feeling that top posts belong to certain tribes from certain parts of the country? Is that the general view within the party?

I haven’t picked up on it. Who becomes what in the BDP should be based on their ability not which part of the country they come from.

But I understand where this may be coming from. It may be because recently we have seen leadership from Serowe, but I do not think it was by any design.

I want people from all over to aspire to any position within the party.

Q. Your thoughts on the UDC coalition

The jury is still out as to the so-called unity of the opposition. I do not believe they are as united as they claim to be; we will still see them squabble going forward.

Q. Lastly, as a former Minister of Education, what is your view on the reported decline of academic stance in the country, especially reflecting on the recently released Junior Certificate (JC) results?

There is definitely room for improvement, a 30 per cent countrywide pass is totally unacceptable, but it is not easy.

I know how difficult it is, I was there for five years! I have read reports on the response by government to this very issue, but I believe that a good starting point is to have a conversation with teachers, followed by parents.

This is where we should start.

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