Former Botswana National Front youth league president Khumoekae Richard is poised to face off with his former party president Duma Boko in the 2019 general elections. Richard, who defected from the BNF last year to join the new political entrant Alliance for Progressives (AP) is said to be the party’s favourite candidate in an effort to wrestle the Gaborone Bonnington North constituency from Boko who is also the president of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The name of Richard kept cropping up during conversations among AP supporters at the party’s launch in Francistown over the weekend. AP supporters are said to be convinced Richard is best placed to challenge Boko given the fact that he knows him very well, having worked with him at the BNF and when he wrote a book about him (The Boko Factor), which allowed him ample time to interview and profile him. ‘‘If there is one person who knows Boko, it has to be Richard. He knows his strengths and weaknesses. Remember he even wrote a book about Boko,’’ one AP supporters said.
Speaking from Canada on Sunday, Richard confirmed that he is considering the offer to challenge Boko and BDP’s Anna Mokgethi in the upcoming general elections.
‘‘Yes, I have been approached and I am aware of the heightening voice inviting me to come and rescue the people in Bonnington North since there is a vacancy of leadership; with the MP who has neglected the constituency so badly,’’Richard said. He said personally he would not mind facing Boko but added that it would be an interesting battle.
‘‘I have fought many battles before and God’s grace has always been upon me through His people. You just need to be clad in grace to win that constituency and serve the people with humility and respect,’’ the combatant former BNF youth league leader said. Richard however said he has not yet made up his mind as his main focus and interest currently is to finish his Masters of Science with flying colours.
‘‘But I will be honoured to represent the good people of Bonnington North. I was born there: I grew up in G-west (Diphetogo ward). Our family has a plot there. So it is home. Above all, I would represent the voice of the Youth (the most neglected) and the silent majority (who are not political activists), the silent majority who are unhappy with the political drama and toxic dishonesty back home in Botswana and can only speak through the ballot box. However that is for the party (AP) to decide whether they send me or someone else. The party has processes and procedures that should be respected by all,’’ Richard said.
Richard said Boko has failed to engage his constituents enough ever since he went to parliament in 2014. Interestingly, in his book (The Boko Factor) there is a chapter where Richard engages Boko on allegations that he absconds from parliamentary sessions and does not hold Kgotla meetings in his constituency. Below are excerpts from the book capturing the interview between Richard and Boko.
Richard: There is significant a section of our society who believe you are a care free leader who takes people for granted citing examples of the alleged neglected Bonnington North Constituency which you happen to be the area MP — and also your alleged noticeable frequent absence from Parliamentary Business. Your reaction?
Boko: “I am always attending parliamentary business, I think those allegations are unfounded and very importantly every leader, Member of Parliament on occasion gets to be called upon to travel outside the borders of the country to…on parliamentary business…and the leader of my stature and the UDC and leader of the opposition have to interact with the world. Such interaction will entail absence from the Parliament, which absence is documented and communicated through the right channels. There cannot be absence that is outside those protocols. So any person who makes those allegations either are not properly informed or they have any other agenda — which is also welcome.
But again, you see…change involves sometimes departing from the beaten path, a lot of MPs from ruling party call Kgotla meetings where they address a handful of people and…sing them some lullabies of what government programmes are there — that’s not my mission; my mission is not to call Kgotla meetings and sing lullabies to anybody. My mission is to lay bare the wrongs that are being wrought on our communities and when I have called Kgotla meetings I have engaged them, not even Kgotla meetings — I call them town hall meetings, because Kgotla meetings can also be a very misleading term where I have engaged with the residents in all these wards and I have appreciated the agenda.’’