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Tsogwane denies Boteti Chief new contract

Minister Slumber Tsogwane

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane has declined to extend the contract of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi representative for Boteti Region, Oreagetse Machildza.

Sources close to the developments indicate that Tsogwane has decided not to renew the contract of Machilidza because he has reached the compulsory retirement age of 60 years.

According to Bogosi Act, it is at the discretion of Minister of Local Government to approve the extension of a chief’s stay in office by a contract after he has reached a compulsory retirement age.

The Bogosi Act states that a Kgosi may, after consultation with the people of the area at a kgotla in the customary manner and with the approval of the Minister, recognise any person designated by his or her tribe as Kgosana in respect of the area of his or her tribal territory or tribal area and may in like manner withdraw the recognition.

Machilidza, who falls under the category of Kgosana under Bogosi Act is under the authority of Bangwato chief, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane.

Weekend Post has gathered that, Machilidza one of the outspoken members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi has clashed with government on number of occasions over recognition matters of tribal authority.

It is revealed that at one point, Machilidza had a stand-off with Minister of Mineral, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila at Mopipi after advising members of the community not to attend a Kgotla meeting scheduled to be addressed by the minister because he was not informed about the meeting.

Machilidza is also associated with opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) and suspicions are that his contract was not extended because of his political inclination with the opposition.

Mopipi Ward, part of Tsogwane’s Boteti West constituency has been in the hands of opposition BNF (and later Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)) since 2009 and it is believed that Machilidza has been influential in the political development in the area.

Tsogwane is also accused of being conflicted. According to villagers who spoke to this publication, the decision to strip Machilidza chieftainship was motivated by Tsogwane’s political interest.

Contacted for comment, Tsogwane has expressed that the decision not to extend Machilidza’s contract was not influenced by allegations of his political affiliation with the opposition parties.

“His contract came to an end, he was not fired. The Bogosi Act gives his [Machilidza] supervisors the power to extend or not to extend his contract based on the circumstances prevailing,” he said.

“Machilidza falls under the supervision of Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, and he is the one who make recommendations whether with regard to extending his contract or to appoint his replacement,” Tsogwane further stated.

He added that it is common knowledge that Bogosi Act prohibits Dikgosi from actively participating in politics, something which he said, if Machilidza was guilty of, he would have long lawfully removed him.

The Minister of Local Government further reiterated that Machilidza’s removal was not political motivated but refused to disclose reasons for government refusal to extend his contract.

This publication has further established that Machilidza will be replaced by a pro-BDP chief, but stiff resistance is expected from the community of Boteti. However the buck stays with Tsogwane on who is finally appointed into the position of chieftainship since the Bogosi Act state that “the Minister may, if he or she is satisfied that- the recognition of a Kgosana has been made without due consideration of the wishes and interests of the people of the tribal territory or tribal area, cancel the recognition of such Kgosana, and may recognise as Kgosana such person as he or she considers appropriate after consultation with the people of the tribal territory or tribal area.

Earlier this year, Machilidza had a motion rejected in which he called for abolishment of the “Paramount Chief” status in order to treat all chiefs equally.  Machilidza was of the view that government has not implemented the recommendation of Balopi Commission on Bogosi.

Machilidza has also on several occasions challenged for the position of Deputy Chairperson of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi albeit without success. His last attempt was in October 2015 when elections were called to replace Kgosi Lotlaamoreng who left the house to become Member of Parliament for GoodHope-Mabule.

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WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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