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.
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.