Ntlo Ya Dikgosi recently debated a motion that addressed a number of issues including the Bogosi conditions of service. Dikgosi want the Government to address their conditions of service and are particularly unhappy about being at the direction of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. Dikgosi Association and Dikgosana Association are busy lobbying to push for amendments to the Bogosi Act. The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane said he is not aware of complaints from Dikgosi and he has not heard about their meetings.
Bogosi Association and Dikgosana Association are compiling reports to be tabled before the Minister of Local Government and Rural development, Slumber Tsogwane in the near future. Magosi are separately calling for a review of the Bogosi Act, in particular issues that deal with their powers and conditions of service.
Members of Bogosi Association met in Mahalapye this past weekend to address a number of issues linked to the Bogosi Act and are said to be of the view that it must be reviewed and some of their powers be reinstated. Magosi are adamantly incensed by the total powers given to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development over Dikgosi.
Of particular concern are clauses that deal with recognition of Dikgosi, appointments of Magosi and removal of Magosi. They are concerned that the Minister, at least in the spirit of the Bogosi Act appears to be superior to morafhe and may choose to ignore the natural lineage of a particular Bogosi.
Just recently Ntlo Ya Dikgosi debated a motion which called for a review of their conditions of service and or Bogosi Act and want the Minister to push Cabinet to review it. Weekend Post has gathered that the Minister wants to be given documents relating to the debate.
It has come to light that soon after the debate of this matter, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng of Barolong resigned from Bogosi and joined politics. He is representing the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the Goodhope-Mabule bye-election.
Dikgosi are annoyed that the Bogosi Act disrespects the Botswana culture especially when a Kgosi retires before the mandatory age of 80 years. A Kgosi can serve until they are 80 years.
But at age 60, the Kgosi is forced to retire by the Public Service Act, and his or her fate rests with the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who chooses to give or not to give him a contract of employment every five years. Such a contract is reviewed by the Minister and the discretion to appoint solely rests with the Minister.
Dikgosi have used Kgosi Sekai of Bakgatla’s case as an example. Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Peter Siele dethroned him following his battle with government during the flogging case. Dikgosi point out that they are at the mercy of politicians because of the prescriptions of Bogosi Act.
This publication has gathered that some Magosi are threatening to jump ship and join the political bandwagon because that is where “their power has been taken”. On the other hand Magosana are at logger heads with government over low salaries and lack of recognition. They want their conditions of service to be reviewed because there are Magosana who are not paid at all, “all we are doing is just a national service,” one Kgosana told WeekendPost.
Dikgosi are of the view that their influence and leadership over merafhe is being undermined by government to an extent that they are treated as civil servants.
Kgosi Gaamangwe Garebakwena, spokesperson of Dikgosana Association indicated that he was aware that Dikgosi Association met at the weekend but he was not privy to the details. He said Dikgosana Association is also meeting very soon to discuss issues affecting their institution. However, he pointed out that it is important to address the root cause of why Dikgosi are joining politics. “What is attracting Dikgosi to politics? We must deal with the cause then we will protect the Bogosi institution,” he said.
There are fears that Magosana in the villages may take a shot at politics come 2019 because they want some resemblance of power, better salaries and improved living standards. “These people are aware of the influence they have in their communities and it can be an easy decision for them to join a structure that could quickly bring changes to their personal lives and the lives of those they lead,” said a Kgosana who preferred anonymity. In fact during the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi debate one of the Dikgosi remarked that “Dikgosi are a government in waiting.”
The Repeal of Chieftainship Act
The Chieftainship Act CAP 41:01 was repealed by Section 29 of Bogosi Act of 2008 which commenced on the 30th April 2008. Bogosi Act of 2008 was enacted as a consequence of the Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry of 2000 otherwise known as The Balopi Commission, into Sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Constitution of Botswana which dealt with the perceived tribal discrimination. The Balopi Commission was thus aimed at solving the problem of tribal inequality in Botswana. The Bogosi Act of 2008 resulted in the nomenclature – House of Chiefs – changing to Ntlo ya Dikgosi, the title Chief changed to Kgosi and the number of members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi increased from twelve (12) to thirty four (34).
Some contentious clauses as captured from the Bogosi Act:
Who is a Kgosi
A Kgosi is an individual who- (a) possesses such minimum educational qualifications as may be prescribed from time to time; (b) has been designated as Kgosi under section 6; and (c) is recognised as a Kgosi by the Minister in accordance with the provisions of sections 6 and 21.
Removal of Kgosi
(1) If- (a) the Minister has reasonable cause to believe that the Kgosi of any tribe; or
(b) any tribe or section of a tribe lodges with the Minister a complaint that the Kgosi of that tribe, is incapable of exercising his or her powers, has abused his or her powers, is being insubordinate or is refusing or has refused to carry out lawful orders, or is for any reason not a fit and proper person to be a Kgosi, the Minister shall make such enquiry or cause such enquiry to be made as he or she may consider appropriate and shall afford the Kgosi an opportunity to be heard.
(2) If after the holding of an enquiry under subsection (1), the allegations made against the Kgosi are proved, the Minister may- (a) caution or reprimand the Kgosi; (b) order the stoppage of increment of the salary of the Kgosi; (c) suspend the Kgosi; (d) if he or she considers it to be expedient and in the interest of peace, good order and good governance, depose such Kgosi or extend the suspension for a period not exceeding two years.
(3) Where the allegations made against a Kgosi have not been substantiated at the enquiry, the Kgosi shall be reinstated.
Withdrawal of recognition from Kgosi
The Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, at any time, withdraw recognition from a Kgosi if- (a) the Kgosi has been deposed and his or her appeal against the deposition has been dismissed or the period allowed for appealing has elapsed without an appeal having been brought; or (b) the Minister considers it to be in the public interest to withdraw recognition.
Directions by Minister
(1) The Minister may issue directions in writing to any Kgosi, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, for the better carrying out of the provisions of this Act. (2) Any Kgosi who without good cause fails to comply with any directions given to him or her by the Minister shall be liable to be reprimanded, suspended, stoppage of increment of salary or deposed in accordance with the provisions of section 13.
The newly elected Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Executive Committee led by Pastor Reverend Thuso Tiego has declared their disapproval of homosexuality saying it is anti-Christianity and Botswana culture.
Speaking at a Media Briefing this past week, BMD President Tiego said Botswana has been a country that respects culture hence endorsing homosexuality will be catastrophic.
‚ÄúOur young generation grew up being taught about types of families, if homosexuality is passed, at what age will our children be introduced to homosexuality?‚ÄĚ he rhetorically asked.
He continued: ‚ÄúIf we are going to allow homosexuality then the next day, another person will come and say he wants to practice bestiality. What are we going to do because we have already allowed for this one (homosexuality) and at the end it will be a total mess.‚ÄĚ Bestiality is sexual relations between a human being and an animal
This according to Tiego will give those people an opportunity thus disrupting known Botswana beliefs. He however dismissed any notion that the decision to condemn homosexuality should not be linked to the top two of the committee who are men of cloth. ‚ÄúThis is a decision by the whole committee which respects the culture of Botswana and it should not be perceived that because we are clergymen we are influencing them, but even if we do, politics and religion are inter-related.‚ÄĚ
Of late the church and the human rights organization have been up in arms because of the high court decision to allow for same sex marriages. Ministries ganged up, petitioned parliament and threatened to vote out any legislator who will support the idea. The ruling party, BDP which was to table the amendment in the constitution, ended up deferring it.
BMD President further revealed that he is aware of what really led to the split of the party and he is on course to transform as they approach 2024 elections.
‚ÄúThere are so many factors that led to split of party amongst others being leadership disputes, personal egos and ambitions, toxic factionalism and ideological difference just to mention a few, but we are transforming the party and I am confident that we will do well in the coming elections.
In addition, Tiego is hopeful that they will take the government as they feel it is time to rebrand Botswana politics and bring in fresh blood of leaders.
He further hinted that they are coming with positive transformation as they eye to better the lives of Batswana.
‚ÄúWhen we assume government, we promise to be transparent, free and fair electoral processes and encourage pluralism as way of getting back to our roots of being a democratic country as it seems like the current government has forgotten about that important aspect,‚ÄĚ Tiego explained.
Reeling under the increasing barrage of stinging international sanctions, the isolated North Korean regime is reportedly up to its old trickery, this time in a more complicated web of murky operations that have got the authorities of five southern African countries at sixes and sevens as they desperately try to tighten their dragnet around Pyongyang‚Äôs spectral network of illicit ivory and rhino horn trade.
It is an intricate network of poaching for elephant tusks and rhino horns that spans Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with the main sources of the contraband being Botswana and South Africa.
The syndicate running the illegal trafficking of the poached contraband is suspected to be controlled by two shadowy North Korean government operatives with close links to one Han Tae-song, a disgraced North Korean career diplomat who, while serving as the second secretary at his country‚Äôs embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, was expelled in 1992 after he was fingered as the mastermind behind a similar illegal ring that was busted by the country‚Äôs authorities.
This disturbing tale of malfeasance by North Korean state actors is as real as it gets.
Recent reports indicate that authorities in the source countries are jointly battling to plug holes created by the shadowy syndicate which allegedly has on its payroll, park rangers, border officials and cross-border truck drivers.
Even more disturbing are allegations that some wildlife officials are conniving in misrepresenting numbers of retrieved rhino horns and ivory from poachers and getting kickbacks for their involvement in the pilfering of ivory and rhino horns from government stockpiles especially in South Africa.
In a shocking and well-orchestrated movie-style heist in South Africa, thieves in June this year made off with 51 rhino horns after breaking into a very secure government stockpile facility of the North West Parks Board (NWPB).
While some suspects from South Africa and Malawi were nabbed in a government sting operation, none of the rhino horns – 14 of which were very large specimens that can fetch serious money on the black market ‚Äď were recovered.
A report of the heist said the police were lethargic by eight hours in responding to an emergency alert of the robbery which was described by North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone as ‚Äú‚Ä¶ a case of business robbery‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
Thabang Moko, a security analyst in Pretoria says the military precision in the burglary, delays in police response, and failure to recover the stolen rhino horns is dubious. ‚ÄúThis development lends credence to suspicions that some government officials could be part of a shadowy syndicate run by foreign buyers of rhino horns and ivory,‚ÄĚ Moko says.
It is understood that in light of the rhino horns heist in North West, South Africa‚Äôs Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy on 1 August, shared her concerns to her counterparts in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique calling for greater regional cooperation to combat the illegal wildlife trafficking which she believes is being masterminded by the Far East‚Äôs buyers of the ill-gotten horns and ivory.
It is believed that foreign kingpins involved in perpetuating the illegal trade are mainly North Koreans vying against Vietnamese and Cambodian buyers in the quest for dominance of the illicit trade in rhino horns and ivory sourced from southern Africa.
Creecy‚Äôs concerns, which she also shared to South Africa‚Äôs state-run broadcaster SABC, echoed Moko‚Äôs worries that the North West heist may have been an inside job.
According to Creecy, there was a need for the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol)‚Äôs greater involvement in joint investigations by affected countries as there were indications of ‚Äėlocal knowledge‚Äô of the North West job and that syndicates, ‚ÄúHigher up the value chain actually recruit park rangers to the illegal ivory trade network.‚ÄĚ
Botswana‚Äôs Environment and Tourism Minister Philda Kereng is on national record admitting that poaching was a source of headaches to her government, especially considering that the daring poachers were making successful incursions into secure areas protected by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
This came after poachers gunned down two white rhinos at the BDF-protected Khama Rhino Sanctuary in August 2022 despite Kereng putting the time frame of the killings between October and November 2022.
Kereng hinted at the existence of Asian controlled syndicates and acknowledged that the surge in poaching in Botswana is driven by the ‚Äúincreased demand¬†for rhino horn on the international market‚ÄĚ where in Asia rhino horns are believed to be potent in traditional medicines and for their imagined therapeutic properties.
Botswana has in the past recorded an incident of a group of an all-Asian reconnaissance advance team teams being nabbed by the country‚Äôs intelligence service in the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Masquerading as tourists, the group, with suspected links to North Korea and China, was discovered to be collecting crucial data for poachers.
Also according to reliable information at hand, an undisclosed number of wildlife parks rangers were arrested between September 2022 and January this year, after information surfaced that they connived in the smuggling of rhino horns and ivory from Botswana.
One of the rangers reportedly admitted getting paid to falsify information on recovered horns and ivory which were smuggled out of the country through its vast and porous eastern border with South Africa, and making their way to their final destination in Mozambique via back roads and farmlands in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
‚ÄúWe are aware that in the past year, some rhino horns and ivory illegally obtained from Botswana through poaching activities and shady deals by some elements within our wildlife and national parks department, have found their way out of the country and end up in Mozambique‚Äôs coastal ports for shipment to the Far East,‚ÄĚ a Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) source says.
Independent investigations reveal that two North Korean buyers, one of them only identified as Yi Kang-dae [confirmed to be an intelligence official in the country‚Äôs state security apparatus], acting on behalf of the disgraced Han Tae-song, financed the entire operation on two occasions between 2022 and 2023, to move at least 18 rhino horns and 19 elephant tusks from Botswana, including pay-offs – mostly to border patrol and customs officials for safe passage – along the knotty conduit across South Africa‚Äôs north western lands, then across south-eastern Zimbabwe into Mozambique.
According to a trusted cross-border transport operator in Zimbabwe, the rhino horns and elephant tusks were illegally handed over to smugglers in Mozambique at an obscure illegal crossing point 15km north of Zimbabwe‚Äôs Forbes Border Post in November 2022 and February this year.
The end buyers in Mozambique? ‚ÄúIt is quite an embarrassment for us, but we have solid evidence that two North Korean buyers, one of them who is linked to a former notorious diplomat from that country who has been in the past involved in such illegal activities in Zimbabwe, oversaw the loading of rhino horns and ivory onto a China-bound ship from one of our ports,‚ÄĚ a top government source in Maputo said before declining to divulge more information citing ongoing investigations.
Yi Kang-dae and his accomplice‚Äôs whereabouts are presently unclear to Mozambican authorities whose dragnet reportedly recently netted some key actors of the network. Han Tae-song currently serves as North Korea‚Äôs ambassador to the United Nations in Switzerland.
North Korean diplomats have in the past used Mozambique as a final transit point for the shipment of rhino horns to the Far East.
In May 2015, Mozambican authorities nabbed two North Koreans, one of them a Pretoria-based diplomat and political counsellor identified as Pak Chol-jun after they were caught in possession of 4.5kg of rhino horn pieces and US$100,000 cash.
Pak‚Äôs accomplice, Kim Jong-su, a Taekwondo instructor also based in South Africa, was fingered as a North Korean spy and returned to North Korea under suspicious circumstances on the heels of Pak‚Äôs expulsion from South Africa in November 2016.
A security source in Zimbabwe closely following current developments says there is a big chance that Han Tae-song may have revived the old smuggling network he ran while posted in Zimbabwe in the 90s.
‚ÄúThe biting international sanctions against North Korea in the past decade may have prompted Han to reawaken his network which has been dormant for some time,‚ÄĚ the source says. ‚ÄúThere is no telling if the shady network is dead now given that Han‚Äôs two front men have not been nabbed in Mozambique. More joint vigilance is needed to destroy the operation at the source and at the end of the line.‚ÄĚ
North Korean diplomats have, as early as October 1976, been fingered for engaging in illegal activities ranging from possession of and trade in ivory pieces, trade in diamonds and gold, the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit currencies, pharmaceuticals, and the sale on the black market, of a paraphernalia of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and other trinkets on the back of protracted and biting international sanctions against the reclusive state for its gross human rights abuses against its own people and flagrant nuclear tests.
These illegal activities, according to a US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, have raked in at least US$500m annually for the Pyongyang regime. Other global studies estimate that North Korea‚Äôs illegal earnings from the black market are around $1bn annually, and are being channelled towards the country‚Äôs nuclear weapons programme, while ordinary North Koreans continue to die of mass starvation.
In February 2014, Botswana, citing systematic human rights violations, severed ties with North Korea with the former‚Äôs president Mokgweetsi Masisi (then vice president) calling North Korea an ‚Äėevil nation‚Äô on 23 September 2016, at a United Nations General Assembly forum in Washington, USA.
Botswana has¬†close to 132,000¬†elephants, more than any of its four neighbouring countries, namely Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to a 2022 Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Elephant Survey.
The rhino population in Botswana has significantly dwindled, with poaching a leading cause of the decimation of the country‚Äôs rhinos. Despite dehorning and relocating its diminishing rhino population from the extensive Okavango Delta to undisclosed sanctuaries, Botswana has since 2018, lost 138 rhinos to poachers.
The sharp spike in rhino poaching in Botswana came after the country‚Äôs government made a controversial decision to disarm park rangers in early 2018.
In a statement delivered in November 2022 to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) CoP-19 in Panama, the Botswana government instead blamed the surge in poaching to a shift of foreign-sponsored organised poaching organisations from South Africa to Botswana.
‚ÄúThis increase in rhino poaching in Botswana coincided with a decline of rhino poaching in South Africa from 2018 to 2020, suggesting a displacement of the poaching syndicates from South Africa to Botswana,‚ÄĚ the statement reads. ‚ÄúThe recent decline in rhino poaching in Botswana (2021 and 2022, relative to 2020) coincides with the increase in rhino poaching in Namibia and South Africa, further suggesting displacement of the poaching syndicates across the sub-region.‚ÄĚ
According to the Botswana government, as of 13 November 2022 the country has secreted its shrinking rhinos (only 285 white rhinos and 23¬†black rhinos) in undisclosed locations within the country‚Äôs borders.
South Africa has close to 15,000 rhinos. Between January and June 2022 alone, poachers killed 260 rhinos in South Africa for their horns. The country is home to the majority of Africa‚Äôs white rhinos, a species whose existence remains under threat of extinction due to poaching.
The major threat posed by foreign state actors including those from North Korea, to southern Africa‚Äôs rhino and elephant population remains grim as the bulk of the rhino horns and elephant tusks reportedly continue finding their way to the Far East, where China is being used as the major distribution centre.