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Khama chieftaincy under attack

Two senior ministers recently impressed upon President Mokgweetsi Masisi in a private meeting, persuading him to suspend former president Lt Gen Ian Khama from his chieftaincy, WeekendPost has established.  

Information gathered by this publication reveals that the two cabinet ministers, who also served under Khama’s administration; Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Unity Dow want Khama to stop going around the country addressing Kgotla meetings. There are reports that is former president is allowed to go on the loose, he will harm the ruling party’s electoral prospects given the influence he still possess countrywide.

Khama broke ranks with the ruling party few months after leaving office, with some believing that he is determined to outcome of 2019 general elections in key constituencies. In a recent interview with WeekendPost the former president said a Kgotla is open to everyone including but not limited to government officials, landboards, politicians and Dikgosi (in which he fall) to address meetings.

 But when he left office on the 1st April this year, Khama made it very clear that he will be not be going to take the role of a Kgosi but will rather work closely with Dikgosi in Serowe and consult as in when the need arises. After stepping down and leaving public office as State President Ian Khama continued his work from Office of the former President continuing mostly with his charity work. He entrusted the longtime serving Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane to continue as Bangwato regent.   

According to one of the local newspapers in 1973, Kgosi Seepapitso IV was suspended for one year because he was purported to have on several occasions behaved in a manner deemed unbecoming for a Kgosi and was perceived as a poor performer in the execution of his chieftaincy functions.  The Chieftainship Act of 1966 conned the Chiefs to the authority of the state as well as adumbrating their functions in the tribe.

Of particular significance was the authority which is vested in the President to recognize the designation of the Chief by the tribe and to suspend and dispose him following a judicial commission of enquiry. Subsequent legislation substantially consolidated the power of the President and the responsible Cabinet Minister. In spite attempts by successive governments to emasculate it, the institution of Bogosi has stayed vibrant and is still revered highly today by the people and it is here to stay.

Kgosikgolo Kgafela II was de-recognised by Lebonaamang Mokalake, Minister of Local Government on 28th October 2011 as provided for in the Bogosi Act of 2008. Kgafela was being de-recognised 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.

It is worth noting that Bangwato’s chieftaincy has been under the hands of regiments since 1925. According to Bogosi Act of 2008 article 7, appointment of Motshwarelela Bogosi (1) is arranged where a person designated as Kgosi under section 6 is for any reason unable to assume Bogosi, or where a person recognized as a Kgosi is unable to take up the functions of that office, it shall be the duty of the tribe or the person so recognized as Kgosi, as the case may be, to designate another member (in this Act referred to as "Motshwarelela Bogosi") of the tribe according to customary law, or the established norm and practice of such tribe.  

(2) Subject to the provisions of section 9, the Minister shall, by notice published in the Gazette, appoint the person designated in terms of subsection (1) to be Motshwarelela Bogosi. (3) A person appointed as Motshwarelela Bogosi of a tribe shall exercise and perform to the exclusion of all other persons, the functions of the Kgosi.

Withdrawal of recognition from Kgosi, as stipulated in the Act, 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.

Both Ministers are said to be taking revenge on the former President Ian Khama. Unity Dow who lost elections in Kgatleng West was later brought in by President Khama and appointed Minister of Education. It is reported that Dow and Khama fell out at some point after the latter labeled the former incompetent as Ministry of Education was further sinking into woes. Bobonong Member of Parliament Kgathi who is also the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security is also not on good terms with his former boss.

Kgathi lost BDP primary elections to Francisco Kgoboko but got a lifeline as this week party politburo ordered a re- run. At the launch of Francisco Kgoboko Trust a few months back leading to the primary elections in Mabolwe, in Bobirwa Khama narrated how Kgathi tried to force him to cancel his acceptance to officiate at the event which was well attended. Former President who spoke at length against Kgathi, said he was shocked to hear the minister ordering him to cancel his participation at the launch.

He went on to label Kgathi power hungry and disrespectful to him as Bangwato Kgosikgolo. According to Khama Kgathi was also blocking Dikgosi from attending the launch. He went on to say a constituency is not a personal property as it is open to contest, words that did not sit well with Kgathi. While contacted for comment Kgathi said he has no idea about the said meeting and directed this reporter to Dr Dow before hanging up.

For his part the former President Ian Khama told WeekendPost that he overheard the developments but will not dwell much on them because they are baseless. He described Kgathi as someone bitter after the Mabolwe incident where Khama officiated. “Those people are bitter “, said former president Ian Khama. Continued efforts to get a comment from government spokesperson John Dipowe proved futile since his phone rang unanswered the whole week.

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