‘Fear Fokol’ meaning ‘fear nothing’, is a common tagline within the circles of one of the main opposition parties in the country, the Botswana National Front (BNF).
It is the name given to an alleged faction within the party, which has been accused of bullying a number of members out of the BNF.
This week, The Voice’s FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA speaks to the man believed to be behind Fear Fokol, the councillor for Boribamo ward in Molepolole North constituency, ARAFAT KHAN.
Q: Councillor Khan, you are believed to be the driving force behind Fear Fokol, a faction within the BNF, which is said to be bullying other party members. How true is that?
To tell the truth, there is no faction with that name in the BNF.
Fear Fokol is me! It is a brand I was using for campaigns in Borakalalo ward and people gave me that name.
I was trying to brand my campaign for the 2019 general elections.
In the last general elections, I branded myself as a youth; five years on, I cannot continue being labelled a young person.
I had to come up with something new.
Q: Tell us more about Fear Fokol, what is it all about?
Fear Fokol is just a militant and radical tag line. You’d have noticed that it is used more in South African politics.
The likes of EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) and Julias Malema use it a lot.
Of late if you follow Fikile Mbalula, he calls himself Fear Fokol as well.
It has nothing to do with factions. It is a personal tagline for fearless individuals.
Q: It seems you look up to the EFF?
Not as such. I believe in EFF principles and I have known the leader for the past 10 years.
Julias Malema and I come a long way, since his ANC (African National Congress) youth league days.
He is a personal friend of mine. I am inspired by EFF policies.
Q: Former BNFYL leader, Khumoekae Richard and others, labelled Fear Fokol a secret society of crazies who harass and insult everyone within the BNF. What do you say to that?
When Richard and his friends wanted to leave the BNF they had nothing to hold against the party.
They were just trying to find an excuse for leaving.
Normally, when you do not have a good reason for your action, you have to find fault somewhere to save face and in this case, they chose to create the so called Fear Fokol.
Q: But you admit to using that name – don’t you think it is causing confusion, especially within the youth league?
We released a statement last week indicating that people are seemingly using this Fear Fokol tag to attack the BNF.
I therefore withdrew from using the word. As of last week I am no longer campaigning with the tag line even though I would have loved to continue with it towards 2019 general elections.
I had to withdraw the name because I have the interest of the party at heart.
It was being abused and the media was speculating and alleging that Fear Fokol was a faction within the BNF.
Those who wanted to leave the party used Fear Fokol as an excuse. Even the AP (Alliance for Progressives) were using Fear Fokol as an excuse whenever they found it enjoyable to do so.
In the absence of Fear Fokol, let’s hear what their politicking will be about.
Q: Talking of general elections, do you wish to defend your council seat in the next elections?
Yes. I had wanted to serve a single five-year term but people have approached me and requested that I extend my term. Who am I to say no to the request of the people!
Q: Your Uncle, Shabbir Kably, won the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) primary elections this past weekend. If you stand you would have to contest against him, wouldn’t this bring tension or divide your family?
Yes, I will contest against my uncle and it would not be for the first time.
I beat him with a good margin of 360 in the last general elections and this time around I had thought he would give up the chase.
I thought he would retire, but since he wants the challenge, it is still game on.
Maybe then when he loses in 2019 he would lick his wounds and retire.
As of family relations, there is no strain caused by our political difference.
Mind you, my father also belongs to the ruling BDP.
Me and my other uncle, the incumbent Molepolole North MP, Mohammed Khan are members of the BNF, but this has not divided our families in anyway.
There is time for politics and time for family. We live in absolute harmony and respect for each other.
Q: I am told you are doing well for the ward. What is your secret?
When I came in 2014, I involved the business community.
Most of the developments happening in the ward is through the help of those.
I realised that crying victim because we are not a party in power will not take us anywhere as opposition parties, so I had to figure out a way of making it happen.
Fortunately the business community was willing to give support.
Q: Tell me about the fire brigade. Allegedly you lobbied council to have it in your ward. What is your comment on that?
The truth is that the fire brigade deal was done around 2013 and I only became a councillor in 2014 when the council had already commissioned it.
The only part I played in the deal is that, when I became the councillor, I fought hard for the brigade to be moved from Boribamo to Borakalo.
I convinced the council that it would be best located in Borakalalo.
I am a loyal cadre of BNF and I have been with this organisation through thick and thin.
Q: How has the project benefited the ward?
Borakalalo continues to benefit from the project, some have been employed in the brigade, some staff are renting houses in the ward and other locals have mounted small business stalls there. That is what I wanted to achieve.
Q: Now that you are a married man, is the political field still the same game?
It is still the same, only now I have to juggle between the freedom square and still find time for my family.
The good thing is when you are married people tend to look at you as mature and responsible.
In the last elections, we got most of our support from young people, but this time around even the elders are rallying behind us.
Q: There are two new parties in the game, the AP and now the Real Alternative Party (RAP) – are you feeling threatened?
RAP and AP are just the same WhatsApp group. They are not a threat! All they want is to split votes and give advantage to the ruling party.
They are spoilers, that is their mission. But they cannot do us any harm because generally Batswana want a united opposition.