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What will Kgosi Lotlamoreng II offer to Barolong?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Last week we discussed what the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate for the Goodhope/Mabule constituency bye elections, Comfort Maruping, will offer to Barolong if elected Member of Parliament (MP). The previous week we had made the same discussion with respect to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate, Eric Molale. This week we ask the same question of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s candidate, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II.

Like Eric Molale, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II has never contested general elections for the constituency. In fact, hitherto to his resignation as Kgosi for Barolong few knew his political allegiance, something which is obviously good because as Kgosi his tribe needed to have the confidence that he will treat them fairly and without prejudice on political grounds.

Also, like Molale and Maruping, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II is no doubt endowed with sufficient intellectual and administrative capabilities required of an administrator and leader. Though he has no notable experience I am aware of in the public service and the private sector, as Kgosi for Barolong and having been Deputy Chairperson of Ntlo ya Dikgosi he, no doubt, has amassed sufficient leadership and administrative experience.

But, the question is: will this endowment in administration generally and tribal administration in particular translate into the shrewd political leadership required of an elected MP? Asked differently, will Kgosi Lotlamoreng II serve Barolong, or rather, Barolong and BaNgwaketse since the constituency consists of the two tribes, with the excellence which he has exhibited in tribal administration?

It is common knowledge that Barolong, or at least some Barolong, have shown displeasure that they are treated as subservient to BaNgwaketse. Such subservience, they say, is demonstrated by the fact that part of Borolong is under Ngwaketse rule. This displeasure has led to the birth of a pressure group called Barolong ba Baikuedi which, though in a docile way, has strived to redress the situation to no avail mainly because it lacked the support of its DiKgosi, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II and his predecessors.

As is the case with Molale and Maruping, a cursory review of the available literature and anecdotal evidence suggests that Kgosi Lotlamoreng II has not assisted the struggle for Barolong’s self-rule. However, unlike Molale whose excuse could be that he was constrained by the civil service and Maruping whose claim can be that his employers forbade him from such activism, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II can have no such excuse? As Kgosi a matter that touches on the legitimacy of his tribe cannot be secondary. Or did the fact that as Kgosi he was a civil servant constrain him as may have been the case with Molale?

But, even if the civil service forbade him from supporting the course for his tribe’s self-determination the question is: did he at least play an advisory and behind-the-scenes role in that regard? Just like in the case of Molale and Maruping, we may never know, but Barolong know the answer. But, what Kgosi can sacrifice its tribe’s well-being for employment in the civil service? Is n’t the very role of a Kgosi to ensure his tribe’s well-being even if that makes him or her unpopular?    

But, if indeed he was constrained by being a civil servant in assisting to alleviate the plight of his tribesmen, if elected as MP will he assist Barolong in that regard? Unlike Molale and like Maruping he is likely to be able to assist them since he will not be a cabinet minister, at least until the 2019 general elections and, therefore, cannot be constrained by government policy? Also, he cannot be constrained by party policy because a study of the UDC manifesto shows that such a course is not inimical to UDC’s policy?

The issue of self-rule aside, Barolong, as a tribe, have not been prominent, something which, in all fairness, should be blamed more on their DiKgosi, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II and his predecessors, than on Molale and Maruping. Kgosi Lotlamoreng II has failed to use his position and influence as Kgosi to assert Barolong’s prominence? For example, though with little success, Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete has tried to make her tribe worth remembering by re-introducing the initiation ceremonies of Bogwera and Bojale. Also, though in a controversial way, Kgosi Kgafela II of Bakgatla has made his tribe a factor.

Kgosi Lotlamoreng II is relatively young. The question is: has he used his youth to bring innovative development to his tribe? Or, was Bogosi a hindrance in that regard? There is no way it can have been. Government cannot have stopped him from using his spare, even official, time to assist his tribesmen, especially the youth and women, the poor and the elderly, for example.  

If elected as MP will Kgosi Lotlamoreng II, in the true meaning of the adage ‘charity begins at home’, work to better Barolong’s lives? But, what will have changed? As Kgosi, what stopped him from devoting his time and faculties to contribute to the upliftment of his tribe’s success? I opine that nothing did. In fact, among the candidates, if anybody was better placed to give meaning, even if only sentimental, to Barolong’s lives it is Kgosi Lotlamoreng II. The least he could have done was to instill a sense of pride in his tribe, but he failed.

In the same manner that the question was asked of Molale and Maruping this question ought to be asked of Kgosi Lotlamoreng II. Has Kgosi Lotlamoreng II, as MoRolong, used his skills and experience to assist in his tribe’s development, for example, by assisting such structures as Village Development Committees (VDCs), Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs), Home Based Care Groups(HBCG), Youth groups, Women’s groups, and Bogosi in the villages he presides over? Has he assisted the youth and such vulnerable groups as those living with disabilities in his tribe?

Having worked in Phitshane Molopo from 1998 to around 2001, and having worked with the Borolong youth through the then Goodhope Youth Council until around 2009, I can confirm that while Molale and Maruping never featured in any of the community’s activities, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II, even before he ascended to the throne, occasionally participated in a few youth activities. Of course, the situation may have changed and I may not be aware of it since I physically left the district several years ago.

Molale recently mobilized a private company to take health services to Barolong. A question can be asked why Kgosi Lotlamoreng II has not done that, especially that as Kgosi he is presumed to have the influence to lure the private sector to assist his people. While that is a fair question generally, it may be unfair to the extent it relates to Molale because Molale only did that in the run-up to the BDP primary elections. Also, in my view, he unfairly used his position as a Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration to use the company to embellish his political profile. Certainly, what he did should have been done by the Minister of Health. But, that aside Kgosi Lotlamoreng II can surely, during his tenure, have used his influence to attract the private sector, at least for corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Borolong, especially when the late Ronald Sebego was still area MP and Minister of Agriculture, used to contribute bountifully to Botswana’s Agricultural output. Regrettably, this is no more. The question is: does Kgosi Lotlamoreng II have legislative plans to influence Parliament to enact laws to compel government to resuscitate Borolong’s Agricultural prowess? Are Barolong aware of such plans?

Granted, comparatively speaking, Borolong generally has better infrastructure in terms of roads, telecommunications, electricity and government services. Though unlike Molale and like Maruping, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II may have limitations since he won’t be in government, does he have plans to lobby for such to be distributed to such small villages as Mosi, Mokatako, Tshidilamolomo, Leporung and Dikhukhung? In fact, as Kgosi, since he was involved in drawing his district’s development plan, did he strive to ensure that key development projects and/or programmes are included in the plan?

The aforegoing notwithstanding, given his intellectual endowment, administrative and tribal administration prowess, it is inarguable that if Kgosi Lotlamoreng II has the will to serve his people he has something to offer Barolong. Perhaps the most important attribute he offers Barolong is the fact that when everything is said and done he is their Kgosi. His will to serve them can, therefore, be presumed. He perhaps has Barolong’s best interests at heart. Perhaps, like Kgosi Tawana Moremi of BaTawana he will not disappoint.

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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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