- The politician many would love to hate
“Losing elections was one of the most painful moments in my political life, yes, some positive came out of it, it was a big moment of personal growth”. Affectionately called Radisente by her Mother, Jacob Nkate, has been the Secretary General of the BDP, a Member of Parliament, Minister, and CEO of BEDIA and Legal Practitioner. Nkate, one politician who has been more migratory than others has reconnected with his profession by once again opening a legal firm, J.D. Nkate Attorneys. Kgomotso Tshwenyego sat down with him to find more about this man, who managed to find a way into the bad books in people’s minds and yet still has the oomph in him to seek greater heights.
Who is Jacob Nkate?
A lawyer by profession, last born of five children born to the late Mr Nkate Phitisi and Mrs Maina Nkate. Married to Queena Nkate and we have three boys, Mogamisi (27yrs), Seele (22yrs) and Bame (18yrs). I also have a daughter, Tebogo. I am a business man, one of them being a private legal practice, J.D. Nkate Attorneys.
A prominent Politician, a Minister, CEO, where are you headed, opposition?
I am still an active member of the Botswana Democratic Party and still very much involved in party activities, there’s no chance of opposition for me.
Have you washed your hands off politics?
Like I said, I am an active member of the Botswana Democratic Party, I still support the party activities in my constituency and other activities the party is involved in.
Are we likely to see you standing for elections in 2014?
It is something that I cannot for certain say it might or might not happen. I am still talking to friends and family about it. Right now, my focus is on my businesses and legal firm.
Your stay at BEDIA, so shortlived!
BEDIA, was a totally different environment for me. I regret I didn’t last as long as I had wished but it was due to circumstances beyond my control that I had to leave.
Did you leave or the Minister fired you?
I wasn’t fired, I resigned. It was mainly in the best interest of BEDIA, the country and of course myself.
Why exactly did you leave?
We had a mutual agreement that my relationship with the organisation will not be discussed in the press therefore I will not go into details.
Wikileaks, quoted you as having said President Khama was unfit to lead. Your say?
Whatever it was that was said then, even if it were true I said it, has been forgotten.
Did you say that?
It is water under the bridge so let’s not dwell on it.
OK. Could that have been the reason why it is rumoured you fell out of favour with the President?
I am not aware of any fallout with President Khama. Even after those rumours of something I supposedly said about him, I continued to work with him at national and party level.
Lessons learnt as a Politician?
When I lost in the last elections, painful as it was, there were some positives that I took out of it. When I stepped out and reflected, it was good for my own personal growth. You know as people, sometimes we become bigheaded and suddenly we realise we are not as powerful as we thought we were. We forget that we are nothing but a little dot on earth, that we are just a little part of a whole. The loss humbled me, I now look at life much more differently.
So you were bigheaded then?
Well, naturally I am a very stubbon person and when I believe something to be right, it is not easy for anyone to convince me otherwise. I believe too much in myself and do not take advice timely. I have a tendency to obstinately defend a position I take.
Would you say that contributed to your loss?
Because I am not easily moved, it is possible that people did warn me about certain decisions that I made but I didn’t hear them or take their advice. You know, when people talk to a Minister or someone in a higher position, they tend to speak with a low, subdued, respectful and very calm voice.
Why do you think you lost?
Being a political representative for a rural constituency which is also big in land mass, and also a Minister and are required at national level can be quite difficult and very challenging. Juggling the two is quite demanding and one is bound to suffer. It is possible that my constituents were not satisfied with me at a certain point and it caught up with me. The fact that I had to represent Government in certain policy and administrative issues, might have come across as betrayal to my constituency.
On a lighter note, can you cook?
Yes, I can and I love it. I can cook but not these sophisticated dishes. I love cooking Lamb, Morogo and phaleche to the delight of my family.
If Heaven exists, what is the one thing you would love to hear God say to you when you get there?
“Well done my child”. It would be great to hear God say to me that I used the time I was given on earth to make a contribution and difference in the community and also used it well to the best of my ability.
What can you say about the alarming rate of prophets, apostles and ministries in the country?
It is a good thing to have spiritual leadership for the upliftment of a community but it is also worrisome that in some instances it comes across as commercial and that kills the whole initiative.
Do you believe in Prophesies yourself?
I believe it is coincidence when a prophecy comes true. Personally, I don’t buy the prophecy thing and I will not go to a prophet.
Can you give the opposition some advice on BDP weaknesses which they can use in order to take over governance?
Taking a government will only happen if they are more coordinated but their infighting in public is working against them. Right now they seem to allow self-interest to scuttle their good efforts. The idea of ‘all equal’ is a challenge, they need to have a leader fit enough to take them towards winning the next elections.
And who is that person?
Although I know who that person would be, I will not say it until maybe in a situation where I am with all of them. They are all my friends and I dont want to seem to favour one over others more especially through the press.
You didn’t quite give me a straight answer on the BDP weakness that opposition needs to tip to take over
I am BDP, it remains my duty and responsibility to have my party defeat them, so I will not be seen as betraying my own.
Is it not late for opposition merger for 2014?
Not really, all they need is forget BDP, nurture themselves towards the table and focus. Tell people who they really are and win back some trust that they probably have lost from the community. Others should stop attacking the BCP for choosing not to be part of the umbrella.
What is the one thing you did that you will regret forever and will advise others not to do?
I am a very focused person who applies his mind to issues. I cannot think of anything that I did which was so bad that I regret it.
The Zakhem issue?
I don’t want to re-live nor discuss the Zakhem issue, but if half of the things said about me were true, wouldn’t you think I should be in jail? We live in a society that thrives on rumours and gossip and often times one’s image is tainted because people who never met you judge you on the gossip, rumour and street talk.
Share with us your view on public declaration of assets?
I have always and still believe in public declaration of assets by people in key positions. It is generally believed that they could have or do have access to certain privileges, or might use their positions to acquire assets illegally. If the declaration was done, people would have accurate information on how those assets were acquired. What room will be there for speculation?
Finally, how do you relax?
I love the bush, wildlife viewing, camping and the cattlepost.
Full names: Jacob Dickie Nkate
Date of Birth: 16 June, 1961
Role model in Politics: Former President Festus Mogae
Last thing before bed: Kiss my wife goodnight
Church: UCCSA, I was born into it
Favorite meal: Phaleche with lamb and morogo
Business: J.D. Nkate Attorneys