Bakgatla Ba Kgafela paramount chief, Kgafela Kgafela II has told the commission of inquiry, which is investigating the succession of chieftainship Bakgatla in Moruleng that his jurisdiction over the tribe has been confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
When explaining his relationship with senior tribal leader in Moruleng, Kgafela indicated his powers in appointing a leader in Moruleng who ruled on behalf of the paramount chief of the entire tribe. “The correct relationship is that I am his senior, he is my junior as the Constitutional court and custom law says. It is a relationship of a master and a steward in the Bible. If you read the parable of the steward in the Bible, it provides the two answers.”
In the Mmusi Pilane vs Nyalala and others constitutional court judgment in 2012 said, although the villages that make up the traditional community are situated in South Africa, the traditional community recognises as their Kgosikgolo a traditional leader who lives in Mochudi Botswana. His deputy Pilane, administers the affairs of the community in South Africa, and is based in Moruleng.
“The point I am making is that where we sit here, we can go to great lengths trying to understand what the statutes say, but we have advantage of the fact that courts in South Africa have done the work for us, they have explained these things. I can only refer you to these judgments,” said Kgafela. Kgafela submitted before the commission that in the past when there were problems in South Africa, Kgosi Linchwe was called upon to come and deal with problems concerning the former chief, the late Tidimane.
And that likewise, in 2008 to 2016, the tribe in South Africa called upon the paramount chief in Botswana, being him, to exercise his powers to depose the regent, Kgosi Pilane of his duties as kgosi, as the latter violates the tribes’ human rights and refuses to account. “Members of the tribe, comprising Mr Thari Segale, Thari Pilane, Segale Pilane who demanded that should attend to South African issues and depose Kgosi Pilane because the latter violated the tribe’s human rights. So, members of the tribe here had asked me to do exactly as Kgosi Linchwe did in the performance of his role.
Baloyi then told Kgafela that there was evidence brought before them which suggested that Kgafela’s father, the late Paramount Chief Linchwe did not involve himself in Moruleng issues like he wants to, and that he only played a more ceremonial roleâ€• He was invited and consulted if there were major issues. However, Kgafela dismissed the issues that Linchwe did it ceremonially. “Look at the role he played around the Tidimane [Pilane] issue. It was not ceremonial but legal; he even interacted with all former leaders here which even led to appointment of Pilane. Pilane’s appointment is not ceremonial but a matter of law.”
He said while to some certain degree it could be true that his father may not have involved himself as he has in the affairs of Moruleng, “I can tell you why, even myself as I sit here, I would rather not be here. If I had somebody running the affairs of the tribe legally without a headache, I would rather be at the cattle post. We intervene only when things are not run properly; otherwise I would not be responsible. Once things are sorted out, we have proper administration and everything is in order, I will be free to attend other issues in life.”
Kgafela further told the commission that the BBK bogosi was clear in the court judgments and in history of South Africa. “My father played a key role in the independence of this country, him being in Botswana… if he wasn’t in Botswana at the time things would not be as they are today. So authorities in this country have known bogosi jwa Bakgatla such that it should not be an issue as to who Kgosi is and who can appoint who. His role in the struggle of the independence of SA is well known.”
‘My relationship with my uncle, Nyalala Pilane’
When asked to comment on his relationship with the senior chief in Moruleng, Pilane who according to the tribe custom is there in Kgafela’s place, Kgafela said, “Re na le bothata gone fa.”(We have a problem here). He decried that the problem they were having amongst Bakgatla was that Pilane was not performing the role of law amongst the tribe, but doing the opposite.
“If you ask what his role is, I will say, the role of the senior leader, that he has played in the tribe up to today is the very problems that you are seeing today. That is his role. We are here in this commission struggling about many things because of his role. The tribe is in disarray because of the events that have taken place. He is not fit and proper to hold public office, that is why I have accepted his resignation in 2012, and it stands,” he submitted.
The commission heard that the department of mining in South Africa comes to Pilane and makes arrangements to mine in the tribe’s farms without a consultation and he pockets the money. “This is a very painful injustice. A group of people supported by government come and mine our farms without consulting us, and no one listens to them when they complain. We are always litigating against mining companies and Pilane over what is rightfully the people.”
The commission heard that the role of a paramount chief ordinarily based in Botswana, is appointed and enthroned in accordance with the fixed procedure of tradition. He hunts a leopard and provides the pelt for the regiment of his father to prepare for the draping. On the appointed day the tribe converges at a kgotla to witness him being draped with the leopard to formalize his assent to the throne as the epic leader of the whole tribe wherever based, whether Botswana or South Africa or new territories that may be acquired under his leadership.
Once these traditional procedures have taken place, the throne becomes fixed upon who wears the leopard skin in terms of the customary law of Bakgatla in ancient traditions. He rules over the tribe in both Botswana and South Africa. This law is set out in judgments of South African courts including the Constitutional Court. It is settled law, according to Kgafela’s version.
“Presently the royal leopard of BBK is roped upon Kgafela II, and the roping took place in September 20, 2008. Now, the point that is important is that once enthroned, the paramount chief of BBK in Botswana assumes certain royal duties and obligations towards the tribe at large,” he submitted. The core duties, he said include to protect the human rights of the tribe, protect the tribe’s land and property, protect the tribe’s history, its heritage and destiny and unite the tribe and ensure peace and harmony amongst them.
He stated, the paramount chief is obligated to do the right thing in every situation aiming at all times in producing the best results for the tribe: Accordingly whenever issues arise from the tribe, either in Botswana or South Africa touching on any of the duties highlighted, the tribe may call upon the paramount chief in Botswana to exercise his traditional powers in their favour by performing his duties aforesaid, the commission heard.
“The paramount chief has been performing this role since he was enthroned in 2008 and we would submit that the developments of this commission and events on the ground vindicate the answers to this point. What has been happening in the past six years since I came here is exactly the role which the premier asks about.”
“We have been all over South Africa with this role, we have reported crimes which are taking place to police, courts and everywhere you can think of. The soles of our shoes are worn out and we are even limping, because of this journey that we’ve been taking to all over performing this role,” he submitted.
My powers and procedures to appoint a leader in South Africa
The commission heard that the paramount chief in Botswana appoints a person of his choice to rule over the tribe on his behalf. These are prerogative powers bestowed upon the paramount chief by tradition and law, he noted. “And I have exercised those powers in favour of the tribe; I have exercised those powers to dethrone Kgosi Pilane from his seat as a Kgosi in 2012, and evidence for that is Pilane’s retirement letter and my acceptance of that letter, and the history of events leading to those correspondences.”
The tribe is free to decide whether they want me or not
According to Kgafela, if the people in Moruleng do not want to be ruled by the paramount chief in Botswana anymore, they have that right. “My father told them in 1994 that you have the right to go your own way. But you must go to the kgotla, decide on that right and let us know. But, they said, NO…we remain one! And it is stated in the resolution that they remained one,” he said.
Professor Moleleki asked Kgafela why the paramount chieftainship was hereditary while senior traditional leadership was not, among BBK tradition. And Kgafela’s response was that, “The constitution of South Africa recognises traditional communities and their customs, and when you go to the Act, there is a common theme that one thing must be done according to customs and traditions of that community. The customs and tradition of BBK community may be different from other customs, but it is recognized. And the way it is with us may be unique, it’s such that BBK tribe live in two countries.”
He stressed that borders came only yesterday and that they were not their doing. “The point I am making is that where we seat here, we can go to great lengths trying to understand what the statute say, but we have advantage of the fact that courts in SA have done the work for us, they have explained these things. I can only refer you to those judgments. This arrangement of BBK is unique, it’s not our doing, but it is what we are settled with. ,” said Kgafela
Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.
Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.
“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.
Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.
The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.
The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River. They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).
His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.
The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.
Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.
37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far
Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.
“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.
It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.
Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.
This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.
In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.
“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.
Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.
Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”
Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.
He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”
According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.
Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.
“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.
He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.
Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.
“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.
He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”
Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.
However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.
In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.
“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.
Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.
“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.
Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.
In an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.
The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.
“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.
According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.
“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.
“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.
“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).
On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.
Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.
President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.
“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.
On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.
In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.
Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.
Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.
As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.
This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.
The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.
As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.
“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.