Kgosi ga e tlhochwe, e a tsalwa, speaks the traditionalist. And I count myself amongst hardnosed traditionalists. I believe in the traditions of our people since I consider them important to who we are as a people. While I believe strongly in our traditions and the preservation of our people’s culture I understand that we live in a republic which is governed by the Executive (comprising the president and cabinet) through established laws. Part of what these laws do is define who a kgosi is. The Bogosi Act defines a kgosi as an individual who (a) possesses such minimum educational qualifications as may be prescribed from time to time; (b) has been designated as Kgosi under section 6; and (c) is recognised as a Kgosi by the Minister in accordance with the provisions of sections 6 and 21. So while Kgafela II may write to Mme Mma Samapipi, the District Commissioner and say: “I remain your KgosiKgolo and I will continue to discharge my functions”, on the basis of Bogosi Act he is not a Kgosi let alone kgolo. He may indeed be born a kgosi, but according to the laws of Botswana, dikgosi, are not just those who are recognised by their merafe as dikgosi or those who claim such a position by birth; they are legally defined and such a definition includes the recognition by a minister. Whether such a definition is right or not, is a different matter. Kgosikgolo Kgafela II was derecognised by Hon. Lebonaamang T. Mokalake, Minister of Local Government on 28th October 2011 as provided for in the Bogosi Act of 2008. Kgafela is being derecognised for having (a) frustrated Government efforts to consult and communicate with Kgatleng community on developmental issues that affect the community; (b) abused his powers by ordering Dikgosana in Kgatleng to ignore and frustrate Ministers’ efforts in their bid to hold meetings in Kgatleng District; and (c) incited Dikgosana to be insubordinate and refuse to carry-out lawful orders from Ministers. Minister Mokalake therefore took a decision to invoke the provisions of Section 15 of the Bogosi Act, Chapter 41:01, in the public interest, to de-recognise Kgosi Kgafela II with immediate effect. This effectively means that “Kgafela II shall henceforth neither exercise nor perform any powers or official duties relating to tribal administration structures in the Kgatleng District.” Dikgosana in the Kgatleng District have been warned “to respect this decision as failure to do so will be a contravention of the law on their part, resulting in similar action being taken against them.” Section 15 of the Bogosi Act which Mokalake has invoked states that: “The Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, at any time, withdraw recognition from a Kgosi if (a) the Kgosi has been deposed and his or her appeal against the deposition has been dismissed or the period allowed for appealing has elapsed without an appeal having been brought; or (b) the Minister considers it to be in the public interest to withdraw recognition.” Mokalake has considered it “to be in the public interest to withdraw recognition”. Now if Kgafela continues to discharge the functions of a kgosi as he claims in his letter, he will be arrested because he would have contravened the Bogosi Act of 2008. Kgafela has a number of routes open to him to react to the current matter: (a) He could go around Kgatleng claiming to everyone who cares to listen that “I am Kgosikgolo”. This will be harmless as long as he does not perform the functions of a kgosi and the government will likely just ignore him. He could therefore perhaps perform those functions of a kgosi in South Africa kwa Moruleng. (b) The second option is for him to take the matter to court so that he is re-recognised. Ironically he will have to use what he calls colonial laws to help him with his cause. He may find that the current Minister of Local Government is not as hostile as he might have imagined. This is possible, especially that Hon. Mokalake who derecognised him last week, this week relocates to the Ministry of Lands and Housing. The new Minister of Local Government is the Honourable Peter Siele who is more than capable to address this matter sufficiently including at the Kgatleng kgotla. There are few men currently in cabinet who are as gifted, as eloquent and as bold as Peter Siele and I trust that he will handle this matter with unparalleled distinction, though Kgafela insults him as a “dishonourable coward”.
I wish to conclude this column by dealing with a matter that has led to Kgafela’s derecognition, the claim that members of the executive are unwelcome in Kgatleng. This is a matter that Kgafela II returns to in his recent letter. Writing to Samapipi he observes: “Your cabinet was aware that both Mr Mokalake and Rre Siele are not welcome in our kgotlas”. It is unheard of in the history of Botswana to hear a kgosi declaring that a minister is not welcome in a tribal territory. And yet we have heard from Kgatleng, repeatedly, that the president and his cabinet have been banned or are not welcome in any area of the Kgatleng district. Indeed if all ethnic groups tried to replicate what happened in Kgatleng and banned MPs, there will be anarchy in the country. Kgafela therefore had to be restrained. Whether the government reacted appropriately will remain a subject of debate for a while. There are issues which are related to the current matter which do not lie at its epicentre which have been raised to distract us from the central issue. Questions have been raised recently whether dikgosi’s powers haven’t been eroded over the years and that Kgafela does not draw a government salary. These are interesting questions to debate but they have minimum relevance to the current impasse. Some have pointed to the need to review the constitution and that again is besides the central issue. What many fail to appreciate is that this country is called the Republic of Botswana; the head of state is not a monarch but a politically elected individual, drawing his mandate from a popular vote. Botswana is also not a federation made by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government. Botswana is a republic with the executive having supreme authority derived from the people rather than from other basis, such as heredity or divinity. The president and his ministers are supreme finish and klaar! How the current matter will end though, I don’t have a clue. What I do know however is that a few hours after Kgafela II was derecognised, magodimo a ne a bulega, ga na ya maebana pula, mogote wa rebega bogale. It has been like that since.