YOUNG, PASSIONATE AND ALL ABOUT POLITICS
The opposition Botswana National Front made headlines recently with regards to the eligibility of presidential hopeful Duma Boko. The party leadership felt he was not qualified to contest in the race though he was eventually given the go ahead to stand.
But before that, while his candidacy was still subject to scrutiny, the youth league with its Secretary General Arafat Khan at the forefront openly declared that they were throwing their weight against Boko in clear defiance of the leadership. This was not the first time for Khan to be at loggerheads with the leadership as he seems to always differ with his leaders. He fields questions about his life as a young politician and his aspirations.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Arafat Khan. I emerged in the Botswana National Front, meaning I was born and grew up in the party. My uncle Mohammed Khan raised me up. I am one person who speaks what he feels and feels what I say. I am a firm believer in opposition cooperation, state funding of opposition parties and direct election of the country’s president.
When did you become active in politics and why?
I became an active member of the BNF in 2001 because I wanted to advance its causes which I truly believe in. BNF is a party which has the people’s interests at heart and so I wanted to be part of it. I also grew up listening to Dr Kenneth Koma, his ideologies and policies which also made me join his party. I could have joined Botswana Democratic Party like my father (Liakat Kablay) who is one of their member of parliament but I couldn’t because I am against their policies. I only believe in BNF policies because they are for the nation and not just a few individuals.
What are some of those policies?
Health for all, free education for all and housing for all. Every Motswana deserves these basic human needs despite his/her social standing but that is not the case. Education is now a preserve for those with money yet Botswana is regarded as one the richest countries in the continent. Where are the country’s riches which are supposed to benefit all Batswana? Botswana’s wealth should be used to develop its people and the nation and not just a few individuals.
You are the current BNF Youth League Secretary General, what are some of things that you hope to achieve during your term?
The youth league is the backbone of any political party and I hope together with my other comrades we will work hard so we can revive and strengthen the structures of the league throughout the country so that BNF can be the strong opposition party that it has always known to be.
I also want to unite the party and to make sure that all those were expelled or left the party come back because that is where they belong. However they will not just come back on board, they will have to follow the proper procedures of applying so they can be re-admitted into party.
BNF is divided over Duma Boko’s presidential candidacy with you vowing to do anything to make sure that he stands, at one time even defying party leadership on the matter.
As far as I was concerned, which is still the case, Boko is the rightful candidate for the party’s presidency.
He is the man who will unite the party because he is not involved in factionalism. Again he is young and full of energy and will be able to stand against other party presidents. There was no way we were going to allow an old man to stand for BNF presidency when Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has young (Dumelang) Saleshando while Botswana Movement for Democracy is likely to field (Botsalo) Ntuane as its president. We want BNF to move with times and we want a leader who will appeal to the youth. Botswana’s political landscape is changing, judging from the last elections young people are now taking elections seriously and the trend is likely to continue in the next election.
You are talking with confidence that Boko will emerge the BNF president after the congress, where is your confidence coming from?
The BNF youth is behind Boko and as the youth we have always had influence on who becomes the party’s leader, things always go our way. (Otsweletse) Moupo became the party president because of the youth and even stayed on despite other people calling on him to step down because we were right behind him. The same is going to happen with Boko, he has our full support and we will make sure that he becomes the party’s leader.
And what if things don’t go your way?
There is no question about it that things will go our way, Boko is the next BNF president.
Some people view you as a rebellious young man, who is always against the party leadership and that you do that mainly to seek attention, what is your take on this?
People are entitled to their opinions, they can say whatever they want to say about me but it won’t change my beliefs. It won’t change who I am, if I am against something I will not just simple agree to it for the sake of other people. I am not the type of a person to fold hands and keep quiet when things go wrong.
Any regrets with regards to your political life?
The only regret that I have is that BNF lost the Molepolole North seat in the last election. I was the deputy campaign manager and I think my strategies, which could have resulted in us winning the seat, came in a little late to make a significant changes.
What is your ambition in far as your political career is concerned?
I don’t have any personal ambitions, I only have ambitions for the party and the people of Botswana. My ambition is to one-day wake up in a Botswana which is governed by the BNF because that would mean an improved quality of life for Batswana. The country has been in the hands of BDP and it has failed as a party. Unemployment is too high, the cost of living is going up and thereby compromising the quality of life. I therefore want BNF to have a chance to rule so people can enjoy the benefits of this country. Botswana is a country with a lot of mineral wealth but the money that is generated is used on wrong things.
Full names: Arafat Kitso Khan
Place of birth: Borakalalo, Molepolole
Age: late 20s
Marital status: Attached and due to marry next year
Favourite food: Nandos burgers
Favourite drink: Anything but coke
Holiday destination: Mauritius
Past time: Reading
One thing that most people don’t know about him: That I am friendly, loyal and trustworthy
Last time when he cried: When I clinched the position of Secretary General