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.
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.
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.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.