Controversial Paramount Chief of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II has torn apart government’s best laid plans to appease him and his tribe, affirming that he will never set foot in Botswana again until the country’s constitution is changed.
There has been a belief that government’s recent efforts to appease the self-exiled Bakgatla chief will soothe him, which would have possibly led to a favourable relationship between government and Bakgatla — and possible electoral success for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in Kgatleng. Kgosi Kgafela was ‘de-recognised’ by Government in 2011, following an acrimonious relationship between the tribal leader and the then government administration of former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.
The de-recognition, which was executed by then Minister of Local Government, Lebonaamang Mokalake, was in the wake of Kgafela’s decision to ban cabinet ministers from addressing Kgotla meetings in Kgatleng. Prior to that, Kgafela and his 35 tribesmen were in May 2010, slapped with charges of illegal floggings in Mochudi. The Bakgatla Paramount Chief also faces charges of escaping from lawful custody as he fled from Village Magistrate court, following a ruling that he should be detained.
However, a fortnight ago, incumbent Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Frans Van Der Westhuizen, reversed government’s earlier decision – effectively lifting the de-recognition of Kgosi Kgafela II. “I have been in consultation with President Mokgweetsi Masisi about the de-recognition of Kgosi Kgafela II. We have agreed to lift the de-recognition for the sake of peace, stability, reconciliation and cooperation with Bakgatla and the government,” Van Der Westhuizen said. The decision was first announced in a Kgotla meeting in Mochudi, followed by an official statement from the minister, affirming government’s new position. However, the controversial Bakgatla chief wants more than what has been offered.
“These feet of mine will never step in Botswana until the constitution has been changed. I swear, and I am saying this as a matter of principle; I will never set foot in Botswana until they change Seretse [Khama]’s constitution of 1966,” said Kgafela when addressing his tribe in Moruleng, South Africa, last Saturday. Kgafela expressed disdain for the untidy state of governance affairs in Botswana, criticising the government for falling to be accountable, as desired in any democracy.
“There is a lot of corruption in Botswana and nothing is being done about it. Government is not setting-up commissions to investigate corruption and other wrongdoings. You must learn from South Africa, because here they set-up commissions to resolve disputes, and it has worked for us. Let Botswana do the same,” Kgafela said. “We live together in the land of Bechunaland Protectorate-Botswana. There is no accountability in Botswana and the country has become a banana republic. When I left Botswana, I advised Batswana that there are two problems facing the country; the constitution and corrupt government. I have not changed my stand, I still say it. But when I said this, you wanted to put me in jail.”
The maverick chief went to take a swipe at his subjects, for taking pride in supporting and voting political parties instead of participating in worthy causes like advocating for change of the country’s constitution. “There are too many political parties [in Botswana], and you keep on voting for these parties. But you are failing to vote for change of constitution. There is a Referendum Act, which allows citizens to vote to change the constitution, but you have not done anything about it. There was a time when there was a strike for salary increment but there is no strike for change of constitution,” he said.
KGAFELA CASE ON THE BOTSWANA CONSTITUTION
According to Kgafela, Botswana’s constitution, which was adopted in 1966, was not born of the people of Botswana but it was a product of only Seretse Khama, Quett Masire and their friends. Kgafela therefore beliefs the constitution lacks legitimacy, hence he now places it as a priority condition for his return to the land of his father. “Botswana’s constitution is outdated. It is just like an old suit which is no longer attractive to wear. This suit, which belongs to Seretse is old and no longer fits properly—we want a new one.”
The constitution of Botswana was at the centre of debate during formative years, with most Dikgosi resenting it because it stripped them of their powers, and handed them to the government. Seretse Khama, who alongside his deputy—Masire and Leader of the Opposition, Phillip Matante led the team that negotiated the independence of Botswana—had given up his throne as chief of Bangwato as a condition for returning to Botswana from exile in Britain, an exile which arose as a result of opposition of his marriage to a white woman, Ruth Williams.
KGAFELA WANTS AN INDEPENDENT BAKGATLA KINGDOM
Kgafela did not have kind words for the Khama dynasty, whom he accused of having led Botswana to where it is now, even accusing the Khama family of troubling Bakgatla throughout the course of history to date. “Bakgatla, it is now time to settle here in South Africa. We fought for this land and we were given this land by the Queen of Britain. We cannot keep on fleeing,” said Kgafela.
“We fled to Bechuanaland, and we stayed there. During that time, we experienced oppression from Sechele [Bakwena chief], and also from Khama [Of Bangwato]. In 1966, Seretse Khama continued this persecution, and lately, we face the same fate from Ian Khama. But I am saying we cannot live under persecution anymore.”
If that is not enough, Kgafela announced plans to have Bakgatla declared an independent kingdom, and will initiate the process by first reclaiming the Bakgatla land that has been lost after transition from Bechunaland to present day Botswana. “We want the Bakgatla land the way it was in 1889, as per proclamation of Queen of Britain. Tribal Territories Act of 1925 also speaks to that. We are not fighting them [Government of Botswana]. We will negotiate with them because we believe in peace. If they are unable to give back our land, then they should be able to give us fair compensation,”
“If our land is worth P20 billion, they should give us P20 billion.” “We have been under the mercy of Seretse Khama’s policies. Seretse took Bakgatla’s land, and we want that land back. We are going to reclaim that land through legal means. We are going to initiate a summons against in Mafikeng and the first respondent is Government of Botswana.”
“The journey that I am embarking on, I do not want to force anyone to join me. Those who want can do so voluntarily, those who do not want should not bother taking part and they should also not bother us. This journey is the road to the independence of Bakgatla. We want to govern ourselves just like South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Bakgatla, we cannot always live under distress, we should rejoice at the end. I am not forcing anyone, but, I personally have an obligation
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.
The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union‚Äôs main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures‚Äô death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.
He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.¬† In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned. ¬†Other selected pilots‚Äô sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.
Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,‚Äô he stated
He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‚ÄėIf we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy‚Äô, he stated
He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‚ÄėWe need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,‚Äô he noted
Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.
‚ÄėAfter realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it. ¬†‚ÄėWe did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,‚Äô he stated
He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‚ÄėResidents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‚Äėhe added
He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.
Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‚ÄėWe suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,‚Äô
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Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.
‚ÄúThe proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.‚ÄĚ
The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.
‚ÄúWe welcome the Director‚Äôs general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the ‚Äúfive Ps‚ÄĚ that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.‚ÄĚ
According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. ‚ÄúFor that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.‚ÄĚ