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Kgafela II remorseful – Tsogwane

Headstrong Bakgatla-ba-ga-Kgafela Chief, Kgafela Kgafela II may get his way and soon return to Botswana to take over the chieftaincy, if ongoing negotiations with the Office of the President conclude successfully. Government informed his tribe in Mochudi this week that Kgafela II is remorseful and is engaging President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama.

In a development which signalled government’s measured intention deal with the matter to finality, minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane travelled to the Bakgatla capital of Mochudi to brief the tribe about the fate of its chief.

In recognition of issues that arose during the interaction of Bakgatla and the Presidential Task team led by Kgosi Malope II of Bangwaketse, minister Tsogwane took time to explain the bottlenecks around the withdrawal of de-recognition notice – which is one of the demands of morafe.

He said Government is reliably informed that Kgosi Kgafela II has taken South African citizenship. Tsogwane said since Botswana Laws do not allow dual citizenship, the issue of de-recognizing Kgosi Kgafela II can only be considered if he decides to relocate back to Botswana and re-apply for Botswana citizenship.

With Botswana not permitting dual citizenship, it remains to be seen if Kgosi Kgafela II, will be willing to renounce his South African citizenship in order to be recognised again as Bakgatla chief.

This publication has established that the ongoing negotiations between President Khama and Kgosi Kgafela hinge on the latter’s dual citizenship, a move which could see the Bakgatla chief returning home on his terms.

On the subject of Withdrawal of criminal charges and warrant of arrest for Kgosi Kgafela II, Tsogwane said: “the criminal charges against Kgosi Kgafela II are a matter between the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the accused (Kgosi Kgafela II). The current position is that the DPP has already proceeded to prosecute after consulting the Attorney General. Therefore doors for any consultation are already closed. An option that remains in terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act is for Kgafela himself to reconcile with the complainants.”

Speaking directly to the issue of reconciliation between Bakgatla and Government, the minister said lately Kgosi Kgafela II has shown remorse and willingness to reconcile with Government through a letter to the President delivered by Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng. He said going forward Government will engage Kgosi Kgafela II on the matter.

According Tsogwane, the Office of President has commenced negotiations with the Bakgatla chief with regards to his return to his native country. Kgafela II’s return to Botswana however will happen under conditions that he is recognised as the chief of Bakgatla, with Tsogwane admitting that government had disregarded important clauses in de-recognising the Bakgatla chief.

The negotiations were instigated by Kgosi Kgafela II who had sent a letter delivered by Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng in South Africa detailing conditions for his (Kgafela) return to Botswana as a recognised chief of the tribe.

Tsogwane was cagey on revealing the contents of the letter or communication between the two parties but affirmed that there is an ongoing exchange of letters between President Khama’s office and Kgosi Kgafela II.

The negotiations between Kgafela II and Office of the President have been augmented by those of a committee appointed by Bakgatla last year to look into the matter.  

KGAFELA’S BATTLES

The downhill Kgotla, which a few years ago at the turn of events, was a no go area for cabinet Ministers was jam-packed as the tribe, which has been without a chief for almost five years descended to the kgotla to get first-hand the affairs about their chief who has been in self exile in neighbouring South Africa since 2012.

Tsogwane inherited destruction and hate problems between Bakgatla tribe and government, the architects of the riddle being his predecessors Lebonaamang Mokalake and Peter Siele.

Kgafela II, who was installed as Bakgatla chief in 2008, left the country in 2012, following a series of battles with government over a number of issues. He had been de-recognised by then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Mokalake at the time of his departure to South Africa, renouncing the Botswana citizenship in the process, after acquiring South African citizenship.

In a letter written to then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Ramadeluka Seretse, Kgafela II stated in the letter that; “ I am a King who rules over a tribe in two countries.

That circumstance is not of our own doing but a product of colonialism. The fact of the matter is that I have settled in South Africa permanently as a South Africa citizen. What you do with my citizenship of Botswana is up to you, since you now own the country as a family.”

In his previous battles with government, Kgafela II had challenged the constitution of Botswana wanting it to be set aside as he contended that it was fraudulently adopted.

In South Africa, Kgafela II, where he emerged victorious again, was fighting an even tougher battle where his legitimacy as a ruler of Bakgatla in Moruleng was being questioned by one Nyalala Pilane who had been a regent since 1996. Since Kgafela II’s victory Nyalala has been dethroned with his replacement to be installed soon.

Government, upon the expiry of his deputy and Uncle, Bana Sekai Linchwe’s contract, refused to renew it citing that he had reached retirement age. This created another impasse since the Bogosi Act entitled only the Bakgatla chief to appoint his deputy.

In the absence of Kgafela II, Bakgatla have remained without a chief. The royal house has also been divided, with Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe calling for a truce and peace among those involved and restoration of Sekai to his position as the tribe’s deputy chief.

THE KGOTLA MEETING

At the Kgotla meeting, a subservient Tsogwane listened as the tribe demanded that Kgafela’s return should be under the condition that he is not going to be jailed and that the case before the courts involving him and the state is dropped. The tribesmen also want Sekai reinstated in his position as deputy chief with immediate effect.

Tsogwane however, remarked that government would not interfere with the judicial process, and noted that Kgabo, the Bakgatla Chief, is conversant with the law as a lawyer and would not do anything to interfere with the duties of the court.

“If there is need for forgiveness, such could be done after the courts have finished doing their work. At the moment the matter before the courts is beyond the Office of the President or President [Ian Khama]’s authority and we cannot decide on it,” he said.

Tsogwane said the warrant of arrest issued against Kgafela II does not mean that the chief is guilty and would be arrested as he noted that the Bakgatla chief need only appear before the court as demanded.

The Bakgatla’s conundrum resulted in government and Bakgatla becoming sworn enemies, the condition which did not even help the ruling party in the last general elections as the party lost both seats to opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

Still at the meeting, Member of Parliament for Mochudi East Isaac Davids said the decision to derecognize Kgafela II was not well thought out, and blames the government for the impasse which the tribe finds itself in, having gone five years without chief.

“It was an angry decision, and going forward do not make decisions when you are angry,” he quipped.

Davids said that Kgafela II having a case before the courts was besides the point and what mattered most, he expressed, was for Bakgatla to get their chief back.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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