As a lawyer and former lecturer at the University of Botswana, Duma Boko, knows how to construct and deconstruct an argument. Sadique Kebonang, who is the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, was Boko’s student at UB and recently revealed that he was “an excellent lecturer.”
When Boko lays out a case on the parliament floor, rarely is he challenged. And if he is challenged, those who do so, have no appetite of going to toe to toe with him on the substantive issues he raises in his debate. Not long ago and just when the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence period was about to start, Boko challenged the rationale of that theme, arguing that the law doesn’t assign gender to violence. Resuming his seat, he indicated that he would be more than happy to debate ministers ÔÇô or anyone else for that matter, on that point. To date, there have been no takers. If the judgement of the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale is right, Boko may have found his match in the new Specially-elected MP, Bonolo Kenewendo. Molale was on the floor quoting something that Kenewendo had said earlier in her debate. The latter interjected on a point of clarification.
“I just wanted to further support your course in talking about statistics and development and that you should not hesitate to mention that you have moved from 47 per cent of those living under Poverty Datum Line in 1993, to 31 per cent in 2003, to 19 per cent in 2010 and further say that those living under one dollar a day you have moved from 24 per cent in 1993 to 13 per cent in 2010. I can also give these figures by district,” the MP said.
In response, Molale quipped: “Thank you Honourable Kenewendo. That is solid. Honourable Boko has met his match, e bile o didimetse.” That may be so but does Kenewendo also speak Xhosa and Latin? It is important to answer that question because at the height of his rhetorical trance and as happened when the Umbrella for Democratic Change launched him as its parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Bonnington South, Boko speaks in tongues: English, Setswana, Xhosa and Latin. Perhaps more than their predecessors, MPs in this parliament are always too quick to put each other down, often in extremely mean ways. Molale and the Gaborone Central MP, Dr. Phenyo Butale, tend to get into it quite often. When, for the umpteenth time, Butale tackled Molale on the thorny issue of government media being biased in favour of the ruling party, the latter remarked, “I am not that much worried about it. It is just that I need to refer him to the adage that consistency is the mark of a small mind.” The MP would get a chance to return the favour when he registered his displeasure about “the contempt with which ministers like Minister Molale treats this House.” Butale said Molale has a “habit of hiding his intellectual dwarfism behind this arrogance that he has.” In the same session, Molale bristled at Boko for having earlier said that some ministers can’t even speak proper English. Boko pleaded innocent, only recalling having said that he (Molale) doesn’t pronounce some English words correctly.
“Yes, whatever that you said could be correct. I may not be as educated as you are but I take pride in coming up with programmes that sent you to Harvard,” said the minister referring to the famed Harvard University in United States where Boko did his LLM.