As the leader of the opposition (LOO), Duma Gideon Boko is potentially a future President of Botswana.
If that is to happen, the 48-year-old Mahalapye native must first find a way to repair the damage caused by the ailing Botswana Movement for Democracy’s (BMD) recent ‘bloody Bobonong’ congress.
Aside from his political prowess, Boko is famous for his sharp legal mind – indeed, he has a law degree from Harvard University to prove it!
This week, The Voice’s SHARON MATHALA sat down with the Botswana National Front (BNF)/Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) golden boy, who was recently made an Advocate, to get his thoughts on current events.
Q. How do you juggle between the BNF, being an Advocate, being a family man, as well as being the LOO?
There is a lot of time really. Being an advocate is a full time job in a sense but the way I live my life is that anything can happen at any time.
Everyday I am preparing for a case that has not happened. When I am not busy, I cook for my folks, but I also invest a lot in self-development.
That is why when I go out to speak I do not write speeches. I want it to be authentic – for me, it is about the audience.
Q. Take us back to 2014, when you led the UDC to the most closely contested general elections in the country’s history. How were you able to keep it together?
It is always very difficult. But what I know about myself, and some people say it is arrogance, is that I believe in myself.
I do not think there is anybody who can stand before me and mislead me.
It helps, it is not arrogance, some people mistake it for arrogance but it is not!
Q. Leading the BNF and the UDC must be daunting, what is your formula?
There is no formula; you take things as they come.
The important thing is there is a set of agreed measures – they may be written in the constitution or they could be agreed with agendas.
But my main tactic to survive is that I know when to back off, not because I agree but because in a democratic set up, when you have not mobilized the people to believe in your vision, you retreat and you start again.
But when I do make my views known, in the end not at the beginning, I state them very firmly.
I do that both in the BNF and in the UDC.
This is especially relevant in the UDC because it is a coalition of different parties.
Leadership is the easiest thing. I actual believe being a leader of a political party is more difficult compared to leading a country.
Q. In what way?
Leading a country, one has more access to professionals who can assist in certain decision making processes.
You have access to a whole pool of academics and you can create a think tank, discuss challenges on security, health education and so on.
But with a political party there is limited access to those.
Q. You were in Kang when the BMD, Bobonong debacle happened – what was going through your mind as the LOO?
A. Well what was going through my mind is that our comrades in the BMD are going through initiation.
I did not take it as negatively as most of you did. They had to go through that process; I have gone through it, the BCP as well to a certain extent.
I said to myself ‘now they are coming of age’. But coming of age means learning from what you are going through.
It was regrettable that there had to be violence. But it has to happen, it had to. It was a clash of two competing visions.
Q. But what is your stand between the Ndaba and the Pilane faction?
We are, as the UDC, still trying to solve the situation.
This is not about friendship or loyalty this is about what is best for the party. We are going to reach a decision soon.
Q. You have, in some circles, been labelled as a man of expensive tastes.
Some claim you receive big pay cheques from certain organisations; some say you are sponsored by countries or individuals who are eyeing Botswana should you get power.
What is your comment on such allegations?
(Giggles) I worked my a*s off to have guys in parliament.
If folks are not appreciative of the effort I put in then that is their business.
I deployed my own resources in that campaign, make no mistake about it! People assist their friends, personal friends of mine across the world.
I am talking of a situation where I was late paying school fees for my children, why – because I spent all my money on that campaign!
The budget for that campaign was over a million.
And when all is said and done, folks say they supported and sponsored the UDC – I carried that 2014 campaign with the assistance of my friends.
Here, your businessmen are afraid to assist the opposition because it jeopardises their next tender!