It must be very difficult for Jacob Dickie Nkate. Reports on the ground suggest he harbours some ambition to become the next Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) president. He finds himself between a rock and a hard place given the job he currently holds as Botswana’s Ambassador to Japan. First of all, as a civil servant he cannot publicly declare his interest in BDP political positions. Secondly, he is far away from home and cannot hold or coordinate private meetings with his foot soldiers. To add misery to it all, local media have not been giving him positive coverage whenever reviews of BDP presidential candidates are published. In fact, one newspaper has even taken to labelling him as “synonymous with blunders”. In all these reports, no attempt seems to be done to state that despite being ‘synonymous with blunders’, none of those blunders have been found to be in breach of any of the country’s laws. Some of the said blunders are only linked to him through association and collective responsibility which he shared with his colleagues in the party leadership and Cabinet. Nkate has never shied away from explaining all his supposedly blunders. He has provided answers to all the questions thrown his way. Despite his explanations, some of his detractors continue to attempt, rather meekly, but still enough to irritate, that he is still somehow hamstrung or tainted by his past ‘blunders’. In particular, reference is always made to his much published past business relationship with Nicolas Zakhem of ZAC Construction. Nkate has placed it on record that his relationship with this company was neither a secret nor was it a crime. And indeed it wasn’t as he was never prosecuted for it. There was an appointment for him to be a Director of the company and he not only accepted same but openly registered such Directorship with the Registrar of Companies from the word go. The records are there for everyone’s perusal. There was no requirement to do anything else, at least that I could be aware of.
Yes, he received payment from the company as Director’s fees which happens to be normal practice in such situations. When questions arose regarding his dealings with Zac Construction, Nkate resigned, out of his own volition, as Assistant Minister at the time to allow any investigation to take place and to ensure that the BDP can campaign unencumbered with the allegations about him for the 1999 elections. He resigned in April of the same year and was back as full Minister of Lands and Housing in October. President Mogae had found nothing wrong with what Nkate did. Law enforcement organs had found nothing wrong with what he did. The people of Ngami continued to show their confidence in him. Nkate’s political journey cannot be written in a piece of newspaper submission. His story is voluminous and can only be captured through a book. In that regard, should it turn out to be true that he indeed intends to enter in the ring with other contenders for the BDP presidency, his opponents need to be ready for a fierce battle. Nkate is not a pushover. He is a hard worker who has proved to be a decisive leader in many instances where some of his decisions put him on a collision course with the majority. Nkate has always been unlucky in his ministerial positions. He was always thrown in the deep end. He led controversial ministries that need decisive leaders with steeled-balls. Nkate can go out and rightly claim to be exactly what the doctor has ordered for the BDP and this country. Unlike some of the contenders, Nkate grew up in a very rural area, far away from civilization when compared to other contenders who grew up in places that are less than 100 kilometres from the city. Luckily for him, he ended up coming to civilization to further his studies and eventually to work, thus, exposing him to civilisation. He can as such claim to know both urbanity and rurality. As an MP, he represented one of the widest and most rural constituencies. This experience has impacted in him a deeper understanding of the challenges of our people, stretching from the least developed to the cities such as Gaborone where he worked as a Minister to the mining towns such as Selebi Phikwe where he practiced his legal trade.
As for his record as a public servant and elsewhere, I take it his track record is well known, whether you agreed with him or not can be a discussion for another day. You just cannot disregard a person who has been an MP for fifteen years, thirteen of them as a cabinet minister and at four different ministries. You cannot scoff at the political skills and record of a man who was a member of the Central Committee of the ruling party since his days as leader of the youth wing. As you may all know, he is now serving this nation as an Ambassador to Japan, a role that exposes him to international relationship building that the nation needs to develop partnerships with other nations in her pursuit to grow its economy and create the much needed jobs for our youth. For those who do not know and are always quick to impute certain motives, Nkate is a holder of a Bachelor Of laws Degree from the University of Botswana in Conjunction with The University of Edinburgh, having graduated in 1986. I would therefore contend that Jacob Nkate is in fact one of the most foresighted leaders of our country. Am I endorsing him for BDP presidency? Yes I am.
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