BOBONONG: Walking barefooted to Matshekge Hill Senior Secondary School was lesson enough, reminisces Francisco Kgoboko, who grew up embracing humility as a virtue.
“I can’t hide the fact that I come from very humble beginnings where there was absolutely nothing to talk about in terms of riches at our house. My parents were very poor,” Kgoboko emphasised.
Kgoboko is the businessman-cum-politician who recently emphatically beat Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi hands down in recent Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Bulela Ditswe parliamentary primaries rerun in Bobirwa constituency.
The 42-year-old father of two - a girl, nine-year-old and a boy, six-year-old, in his earlier life, literally survived on clothes donated by generous fellow students to make ends meet.
However, this sad episode of his life never dampened his spirits as he worked very hard to change his story. Certainly, it never crossed his mind that one day he would join politics.
In his heydays at Matshekge, he was a straight A student whose appetite for excellence was evident.
Hardships of life have taught the novice politician to be a generous giver after his life was uplifted by generous donations earlier in his secondary school life.
Coming from a family of 13 children, he is number seven and both his parents are late.
With a poor, but strong spiritual background, education became the only equaliser. Today, Kgoboko emphasises that education is an important tool to transform the lives of the people of this nation and most importantly the struggling rural Bobirwa constituency.
In an interview this week, he revealed that Babirwa have duly embraced him to beat the incumbent Bobirwa legislator convincingly, twice.
In the first instance it was in August when Kgoboko garnered 4,865 votes to Kgathi’s 2,595 votes.
In the rerun, the novice proved his superiority against the seasoned politician by garnering 4,212 votes to Kgathi’s shrunk 1,811 votes.
Kgoboko who hails from Mabolwe, just outside Bobonong in the eastern side, attributes his popularity in the constituency to the fact that he has always been humble to the people, both young and old.
The fact that he grew up in a sesoa hut or a granary, (a grass-thatched hovel) like many people in the rural Botswana, Kgoboko understands the predicament of the poor constituents and never undermined their state of poverty, but rather he made promises to help them, “catch fish rather than giving them fish all the time.”
One of his strongest political tacts, which he describes as a fundamental principle is inclusivity.
In whatever he does, he identifies the degree of inclusivity as he has the strongest belief that he can transform people and change their lives by working with all of them.
“I include everybody. I engage everybody regardless of their party affiliation in everything that I do,” he said, indicating that a leader has to be humble to the people and take criticism and learn from it.
The new kid on the political block has apparently won the minds and hearts of Babirwa to the extent that they have given him the BDP ticket to the 2019 general elections.
Why is he (Kgoboko) so popular in the constituency?
“Look, I have given the constituents hope that
Kgoboko insists that the future needs employment, which can be proactively driven by robust private enterprises.
His view is that it takes a vibrant private sector to create at least 70% of the needed jobs whilst government can create the remaining 30% required jobs and not vice versa.
He is worried by the reality that a good number of the able-bodied Babirwa lost their jobs when the BCL Mine closed shop, leaving many families poverty-stricken.
As a living example of a man who has been transformed by education from his state of poverty, Kgoboko doubts: “You can’t produce an astronaut through the 1948 curriculum”. He chose to deliberately speak in parables, but sending a message home of the need to transform the curriculum.
In an effort to unite people and build communities, Kgoboko said it’s important to embrace all the people.
He may not be having anything to buy the people’s favours with, but he has hope as the emphasis is on empowering people to fend for themselves.
Reports have suggested that tension existed between Kgoboko and Kgathi towards the BDP primaries.
To this, Kgoboko indicated that humility is in his character and he didn’t wait for Kgathi to come to him, but rather, he has already called him (Kgathi), pleading with him to work with his campaign team.
On the eve of the BDP primaries in Bobirwa last August, former president Ian Khama launched Kgoboko’s FMK Trust which was seen by many as launching Kgoboko the politician. Since then, Kgoboko has been linked to Khama.
Closely associated with Khama in the President Mokgweetsi Masisi-era could earn him the wrath of the pro-Masisi nexus at a time when the party is divided.
To such school of thought, Kgoboko quipped : “I have vehemently supported President Masisi in public and in private, both in principle and in favour of. I wish to make my position clear I will not be moved”.
He added that his character demonstrates consistency and stability. “I will continue to offer my support in the best way possible. My political alignment is unquestionable”.
“The country and party interests come first and personal interests later,” he says.
Kgoboko is an entrepreneur, investor and advisor. By profession he is a chemical and mineral processing engineer.
His deepest wish is to see communities united and economically advanced to meet 21st century demands.
His father was a pastor and although he struggled to build a decent home for his family, he managed to build a church to transform people spiritually.
In his spare time, Kgoboko follows is father’s passion and enjoys Bible lessons, roller skating, giving back to the communities, motivational talks, coaching and mentoring young entrepreneurs and is passionate about farming amongst a plethora of interests.
He enjoys outdoor life and soccer. He is married to Valerie Mmabontle Kgoboko.