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Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics (Part 19): Motsete backs Matante

Jeff Ramsay

We left our story with an already deeply divided BPP in Lobatse, on the morning of Sunday the 1st of August 1962. Just after sunrise some supporters of the party’s Vice President, Phillip Matante, briefly toured Peleng in their Land Rover, calling on its residents to attend a morning rally.

Upon hearing of this announcement the BPP Secretary General, Motsamai Mpho, who was staying with the already suspended Lobatse branch Chairman, Fish Keitseng, dispatched one of his supporters, Patrick Tshane, to drive around the location in his Land Rover, informing the public that the rally would be held in the afternoon instead of the morning. Using a loudspeaker, Tshane is reported to have further said that:

“We cannot tolerate to be led by Matante who takes our children during the night and throws them across the border. B.P.P. is non-violent and we don't want a Hitler with his dictatorship to use our party for his guilty ends. This party is not his but for you the people.”

Some of Matante's men responded to this provocation by chasing after Tshane in their vehicle. The two Land Rovers finally came to a halt outside of the Lobatse Garage, where a minor scuffle broke out over the keys to the Palapye (Tshane’s) car.

By the time a Motswana police constable named Mophuting, who had been observing the confrontation as a Special Branch operator, decided to directly intervene as a crowd of about 100 had begun exchanging blows, with others pouring in.

Fearing a riot Mophuting told the gathering to disperse within ten minutes or face “trouble”. He then advised Mpho, whose supporters were apparently outnumbered, to surrender his vehicle's keys to Matante. Both sides accepted this intervention. Along with another constable, Mophuting then accompanied Matante, Mpho, Keitseng, Tshane, and a few others to the party President Kgalemang Motsete's Peleng home.

Upon their arrival Motsete, in the presence of the police, informed the assembly that: “As the President of this Party I have the right to take some measures when a situation like this demands, thus why I am handing this letter to Mpho.” The letter, which he drafted on the spot, read:

“It pains me to inform you that due to what the Investigating Committee has discovered to be the activities of sabotage against the leadership of the Party of which it is apparent that you are connected, I should take this measure of suspending you. Your suspension starts today and you are required to hand to Matante all Party property e.g. Land Rover, correspondence, typewriters and badges.”

Mpho reluctantly accepted Motsete's letter while protesting that the procedure was improper. Later in afternoon, Matante was recorded publicly announced the Presidential decree as follows:

"The General Secretary, Motsamai Mpho, was suspended from the Party as from today for trying to start destruction and sow the seeds of public violence which is unconstitutional. Most of the refugees from South Africa are responsible for encouraging the present bad spirit. We should keep our eyes on them for they bring with them from South Africa a spirit we do not want in Bechuanaland.

“These refugees must be warned that while they are in Bechuanaland they should stay out of politics and matters that do not concern them. If they continue to interfere, then I myself, Philip Matante will take them outside our boundaries. I will drive them out because I have seen that they are bringing Communism and A.N.C. ideas to this country. If they start practicing communism they are playing with fire. I personally will deal with them without consulting any policeman or District Commissioner."

Before leaving for Palapye on the evening train, Mpho responded by joining with four other members of the BPP National Executive- Keitseng, J.G. Lesetedi (Treasurer), Klaas Motshidisi, and M.M. Tlale, in drawing up a motion of no confidence in Matante and Motsete. In it they denounced the "act of terrorism and threats" against members of the Lobatse Branch undertaken by "Mr. Matante and his Francistown army of our oppressed young men who have acted without thinking."

At the time the Executive had a total of eight members, also including Matante, Motsete, and M.O Mpe (who was not then in Lobatse but subsequently associated himself with the Mpho faction), meaning that its majority of the party’s executive committee had rejected the legitimacy of the suspensions carried out without their consent. On this basis, the suspended members refused to hand over any books and other Party belongings in their possession to Matante as directed by Motsete.

On August 1, 1962 the five aggrieved Executive members took the additional step of filing a legal application against Matante (Motsete had then left for Ghana), ordering him to turn over all Party property in his possession pending the outcome of further civil proceedings to be instituted alleging his misappropriation of external donations. This action had the practical effect of resulting in the court's temporary impoundment of the three Land Rovers.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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