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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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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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