In a twist of events, Dikgosi are expected to pass a motion, soon to be tabled by Bahurutshe’s Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele, in the next session of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD). The motion is calling for traditional leaders to abstain from active politics as it compromises the institution of Bogosi and divides morafe.
According to Mosielele, whose privilege to table this motion will rely on whether his subjects vote him back as their Kgosi post general elections says, it is high time the institution of Bogosi is separated from partisan politics. “Kgosi’s duty is to preserve culture, ensure tranquility and solving disputes by delegating herd-men with him (Kgosi) as a last man when the matter is too much. But all in all as Dikgosi we should not get involved in politics because it disintegrates everything,” he said in an interview.
The maverick leader continued to say; “Dikgosi should not meddle in politics (partisan) because like I said his duty is to unite morafe, but when they join politics, they end up dividing morafe because you are being associated with a certain group and some of your subjects who are not affiliated to yours end up having a certain thought about you. This is not right at all,” he quipped.
The soon to be tabled motion come at a time when Dikgosi have passed another motion in which they want a gigantic Central District Council (CDC) to be split. Observers however believe these motions could be somehow politically motivated, something which Dikgosi vehemently denies. It is observed that the CDC split will neutralise the power of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), between the north and south side of the country. Central District is the heartland of Bangwato, who are led by President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s rival and predecessor, Kgosi Ian Khama.
The BDP has been seen as more powerful and strong in the Central District with more than 15 constituencies having been won uninterrupted by the BDP since first national elections in 1965. For her part, Batawana regent Kgosi Kealetile Moremi is also concurring with her colleague for the traditional leaders to be non-partisan. “Of course to me Dikgosi should not join politics because it does compromise the institution of Bogosi. We should not be political because it can divide the very same morafe we are leading through your party colours,” she expounded.
Interestingly, Kgosi Tawana Moremi who Kealetile is holding the fort for, has left the Kgotla to join active politics. This comes after reports from Maun, that Kgosi Tawana has delegated some royals to canvass votes in favour of BDP parliamentary candidate for Maun West, Reaboka Mbulawa against Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Dumelang Saleshando and Alliance for Progressive’s (AP) Moalosi Sebati. “But here I am telling you my personal views and what I understand Bogosi stands for from where I stand,” Kgosi Kealetile clarified when asked if as Batawana royals are not being double faced. Kgosi Sekai Linchwe for Bakgatla is also singing from the same book with his colleagues.
“To me I believe we should remain focused on our job as Dikgosi and not dip in the politics because it can cause instability within the tribe which is not right. This will dilute our institution which is very principled and I would support that motion if it was to be tabled.” Both Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane [regent] of Bangwato and Bangwaketse’s Kgosi Malope II, did not want to be involved in this conversation with the former saying it is not the right time.
With the elections coming on the 23rd of next month, there will be no Kgosi who will be contesting for political office. In the past two elections traditional leadership were in the mix exchanging unpalatable words at freedom squares with others vying for political seats. In the just dissolved parliament there were two Dikgosi, Tawana II and Lotlaamoreng II of Batawana and Barolong respectively, who have all made it clear that they will not be asking for another term.
“This is a sign that they have learnt and saw that politics and Bogosi are water and oil and to me I am very much glad for that. This is not to say I won’t be putting a motion, I will do, so that all Dikgosi know that a kgosi’s duty is at the kgotla not freedom square,” Mosielele added. History has shown that since 1969 when Kgosi Bathoen of Bangwaketse contested, no any other Kgosi has lost elections.
The founding President, Sir Seretse Khama set the tone with regard to the relationship between Bogosi and politics. Although Seretse was born chief, he was never installed as the Chief of Bangwato after he agreed to return to Botswana as an ordinary man in 1956, at the height of his wars with British government over his marriage to Ruth Seretse, a white lady.
Seretse chose politics over Bogosi, and was consistent in his preaching on the need for Dikgosi to avoid politics or to abdicate their thrones if they wanted to be involved in politics. For Dikgosi to refrain from the politics, it has been said that the government should hold the institution in high regard, including the benefits associated with it. They have in the past revealed that they need security equivalent to those given to judges as they do the same toil of solving disputes.
Private and personal secretaries must also be availed to the leaders to do their job diligently. “We also need diplomatic passports, if you can avail to athletes and MPs why don’t you give Dikgosi the same,” Kgosi Puso Gaborone has said in the past about the Dikgosi condition of service. All these it is believed will stop the traditional leaders from joining politics.
The Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road estimated costs stand at P500 million, the tender which was awarded to Bash Carriers in 2017 has not taken shape four years after the project was commissioned.
Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road when it was commissioned, was estimated at P500 million in value, this included construction of 22.50km of the two lane carriage way and 28.70km of access roads including associated bridge works, cross drainage works, storm water drainage works and relocation of services.
When it was first tendered the contract was awarded to Bash Couriers but was terminated after it was alleged that the contractor failed to deliver. It was said that Bash Couriers Construction Company was lagging behind schedule.
This publication visited the sites of Tshesebe-Masunga road last year December and it was evident that the project was at a standstill as deserted machinery on site could be seen with the gravel road also in a devastating state.
Information revealed then indicated that there had been issues of mining rights for aggregates, availability of structural engineers and manpower and a criteria for awarding tender to the specific company when the contract was terminated.
In 2016, as part of the ESP projects, government funded the 25 kilometres (Km) road project to link Tshesebe and Masunga.
Construction of the road, which also connects some of the villages within the district, commenced early in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed within 18 months.
The company had done nothing when their contract was terminated with allegations that it never had the capacity to carry out the project in the first place.
The major ESP project had ultimately robbed a lot of people potential employment when it succumbed to termination.
It was then that the government restarted the tendering process.
The project was awarded to Bango Trading Company and Zebra Construction in a joint venture at a value of P319 Million Pula.
However, information reaching this publication from the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirms that indeed there are no current works carried out on the Tshesebe Masunga road.
Responding to a questionnaire sent to them by this publication through their Public Relations Officer Doreen Moapare, the Ministry indicated that the Tshesebe-Masunga road project is before the courts therefore their response is limited by such a pending outcome.
“As a background the project had been awarded to Bash Carriers at a contract sum of P400, 044,365.68 to begin the works in May 2017 and complete the project in January 2019. Scopes of works included 51.2km main road inclusive of seven access roads. Due to non-performance, Bash Carriers contract was terminated on the 25th of September 2018. ”
Further, Moapare indicated that upon termination of Bash Carriers, a process began to ensure that the development project completes.
Five companies went for a selective tendering bid which she listed as; Lobkom Investments (Pty) Ltd, Landmark (Pty) Ltd and Truck Hire (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, ACE /Excavator Hire (Pty) Ltd and Asphalt Botswana (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, Cul De Sac, Bango Trading and Zebra Construction Joint venture.
“Some companies have since queried the results of the tendering adjudication landing the issue in the courts. We are currently awaiting a ruling expected in February/March 2021, and this will determine the course of action thereafter,” concluded Moapare.
At one point last year, reports indicated that Bango Trading Construction Company had faced raiding by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services, with allegations that there was an emerging pattern targeting overscheduled construction companies with powerful political connections.
Bango Trading Managing Director, Moffat James, was reported to have had close links to former DIS Director Isaac Seabelo Kgosi. Bango Trading and Estate Construction Company which has obtained close to P 1, 5 billion government contracts under former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has been the subject of a parliamentary probe due to the many government contracts awarded to them.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.