Kgosi Kgafela II of Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela’s marathon battle against Kgosi Nyalala Pilane in Moruleng, South Africa has finally come to an end; and the former is punching his fists in the air as a sign of ‘victory’.
The commission established to investigate challenges engulfing the Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela released a report of findings and recommendations which have been blessed by the Premier of North West. In its report the Commission writes that, “On the role of the paramount chief, the power and procedure to appoint a Kgosi, the correct relationship between Kgafela Kgafela II and Kgosi in Moruleng under the Constitution; and the role of the 32 villages in the appointment of Kgosi, we find that according to custom and tradition, Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela – The title “Paramount Chief” is used interchangeable with Kgosi e Kgolo” and “Kgosikgolo”, in present day, the title “Kgosikgolo” is commonly used.”
The commission concludes that both the communities and the royal family of Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela in Mochudi and Moruleng have historically recognized the institution of Kgosikgolo with jurisdiction in Mochudi and Moruleng. “Both the communities and the royal family in Mochudi and Moruleng have historically recognized the seniority of Kgosikgolo to Kgosi in Mochudi and Moruleng. Kgosikgolo selects the Kgosi in Mochudi, Botswana and in Moruleng, Saulpoort. He has the power to remove the Kgosi.”
Both the communities and the royal family in Mochudi and Moruleng have historically recognized the power of Kgosikgolo to select a Kgosi for each of the two communities. There is no prescribed procedure for the selection of a Kgosi in Moruleng. Kgosikgolo may, at his discretion, consult members of the royal family and or other persons as he may determine.
According to the findings of the Commission, “A Kgosi may only be removed in circumstances provided for in sec 14 of the NW Act. If Kgosikgolo wishes to remove Kgosi from office, he can only do so in accordance with section 14 (1). Kgosikgolo plays no role in the administration of the affairs of the community in both Mochudi and Moruleng. The administration of both communities is the province of the Kgosi in both communities.”
The report emphasizes that in Moruleng, Kgosikgolo becomes involved with administrative matters only upon the invitation of the Kgosi, the Royal Family or the community. He does not, of his own accord, become involved in matters that fall within the province of the Kgosi. “Kgosikgolo has no legal standing to be involved in the discharge of the functions of the Kgosi in terms of the NW Act.
As the senior leader in terms of custom and tradition, he may act at the request of the community, but in doing so, may not assume the functions reserved for Kgosi by the NW Act and the Framework Act. Any involvement in matters which fall within the province of the Kgosi must be with the consent or acquiescence of the Kgosi, provided that it does not result in a degration of the powers and functions of the Kgosi,” reads the report.
According to the report, the NW Act recognizes the State’s duty to “respect, protect and promote the institution of traditional leadership in accordance with the dictates of democracy in South Africa”. “BBK in Moruleng have historically elected to be governed by a system that recognizes the institution of Kgosikgolo, his status as a senior Kgosi and his role to select a Kgosi. The State has a duty to uphold this choice of Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela of Moruleng. This does not offend the Constitution and is consistent with the constitutional recognition of protection of customary law and its leadership structures.”
The report by the Premier also points out that the 32 villages in Moruleng do not play any role in selecting or officiating the appointment of the Kgosi in Moruleng. Addressing the merits and demerits of Mr Merafhe Ramono’s claim to chieftainship in Moruleng, the commission established that “historically, Bogosi in Moruleng has not been hereditary. Kgosikgolon in Mochudi selected the Kgosi in Moruleng. This was the case with Kgosi Ramono I, selected by Kgosi Linchwe I; and was the case with Kgosi Tidimane, selected by Kgosi Molefi I. it was also the case with current Kgosi Pilane who was selected by Kgosi Linchwe II.” The report notes that all dikgosi in Moruleng were selected from the royal family.
The report further notes, “the rightful heir to Bogosi in Moruleng would have been whoever Kgosikgolo selected in accordance with practice and custom at the time. We are therefore unable to identify the person that Kgosikgolo would have identified “had Kgosi Tidimane not acted in the manner that he did” of seeking to appoint his eldest son Merafe Ramono.” The report concludes that Merafe Ramono has no rightful or natural claim to bogosi by virtue of the fact that he is the eldest son of Kgosi Tidimane.
Further enunciating on the role of the kgosi in Moruleng the report notes that Kgosi Pilane is singularly involved with commercial activities conducted on behalf of or in the name of Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela. This includes financial matters related to or arising from transactions with third parties. “Of members of the Traditional Council, Kgosi Pilane has chosen to involve only Mr Kagiso Pilane, his nephew, in matters relating to commercial transactions with third parties,” reads the report.
It states that Kgosi Pilane does not meaningfully consult with or seek the approval of the community in transactions with third parties, including application of monies deriving from transactions with third parties. Kgosi Pilane has also established or authorized the establishment of a web of companies to conduct business on behalf of or in the name of Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela, persons involved in the companies only report to Kgosi Pilane. Kgosi Pilane does not report or account to the Traditional Council about the activities of the companies; neither does he report or account to the community, says the report.
According to the report filed with the Premier and approved by the same office, Kgosi Pilane has failed to take any steps to resolve complaints of financial maladministration against him. “Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela have, under the leadership of Kgosi Pilane, concluded significant commercial transactions relating to their natural resources, the minerals in particular. From these, they earned significant income and hold assets with great financial value.”
However it was established that the 32 villages have no meaningful involvement in decisions to acquire interests or to invest in commercial entities. “Decisions to acquire and to invest are primarily made by Kgosi Pilane. It was also established that none of the income earned from significant transactions with third parties has been paid into the account administered by government as prescribed by sec 30 of the NW Act.”
It has been revealed further that Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela have not been granted authorization to operate a trust account and to pay into such an account monies earned from transactions with third parties as prescribed by the Act. It has emerged that Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela invested money in excess of R900 million without seeking or being granted authorization by the Premier to invest surplus funds as required by the NW Act. Furthermore the accounts and the financial statements of Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela have never been audited by the Auditor General as prescribed by the Act.
The report by the commission has recommended a forensic investigation to conduct a comprehensive investigation of transactions and the financial affairs of the Traditional Council and its companies. It has also recommended that the Premier use his powers to appoint a person to manage the affairs of the Traditional Council.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.