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Dikgosi threaten Gov’t

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.

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