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Ten Commandments for a modern-day young Kgosi


We live in an era where bogosi is under scrutiny more than ever before because many young people question its relevance in the modern world.

There is no doubt that before independence, dikgosi or bogosi helped a great deal to build our nation and it is a fact that a large number of Batswana still embrace this age old institution. Here are some of important ‘10 Commandments’ for young dikgosi that might make their reign more appealing.  

Never be haughty and think you are better than your subjects because they can either make or break you. Young dikgosi should know that although they have been given an opportunity to lead their subjects, they must learn to be humble because it is only humility that can help them to reach lofty places. Don’t refuse to shake hands with your subjects because they might think you regard them as lesser human beings. Make sure that you interact with both the poor and the rich equally and never decline a meal from a poor man’s table.

Never shun the counsel of the tribal elders, borara, because they are like vessels that contain nuggets of wisdom. Don’t be like the Biblical king who shunned the counsel of the elders, preferring to take advice of silly, young men, which led to the demise of his kingdom. Age and experience has given the elders wisdom and good character so they are better placed to help you adjudicate cases. Young people are likely to give you advice that might split the morafe because they like making rushed the decisions. Having said that, when it comes to matter of technology and advancing the morafe economically, the young people are the people to turn to for advice.  

Let it be your top priority to empower the less advantaged in your community more especially the youth and the women. The youth are the future of any morafe, so if you empower them, you are securing a better future for your people. There is a Setswana saying that says, “Mosadi, thari ya sechaba”, loosely meaning that a woman is the chief builder of her community or nation, so if you invest in empowering the women in your community, be rest assured that you are building a strong community.

Empower yourself by getting an education. Those days of dikgosi being the dullest members of the society are over. Read for a course that will help you be a good administrator and an able ‘judge’ of cases presented before you. A course in public administration and law even if they are of lower levels are most certainly the right tools for a chief. A course in counselling can also come in handy for a Kgosi and if time allows get a licence to be a marriage officer. We have heard cases in which dikgosi sentenced people to death for trivial offences, a little education can help a Kgosi know that this is beyond his jurisdiction.

Be a visionary, who thirsts to see development among your people. In the first five years of your tenure, you must set up outstanding development projects in your community. Farming cooperatives are known to be good for improving the economy of many societies if they are properly run and they are known to help fight unemployment. If possible, set up a resource centre where people can get library and internet services. Be actively involved in bringing development into your community and if time allows, supervise some of the projects and be ready to roll up your sleeves and do physical work. A great leader does not wait for government to do everything for his community. Write down a development plan for your community and share it with your people.

Don’t be involved in politics as this could sour your relationship with the people you lead in the process. If you politicise everything as a Kgosi, this might cloud your judgement and you might find yourself grappling in matters that might hamper the growth of your community. Learn to work well with the political leaders in your community despite your political inclination as this is important for the development of your people.

As a modern Kgosi, you must be in a relationship with only one woman and that’s your wife or girlfriend. We have seen even from the Bible, how great men like Solomon fell from grace because of being involved with too many women. Don’t consider your village or kingdom a harem where you could be involved with as many women as possible because that can’t be good for you. Don’t strongly desire things that belong to the community because you might end up stealing them or acquiring them in a questionable manner and landing in trouble in the process. Don’t give your rivals a lever to usurp bogosi from you because of poor administration, whether you like it or not, there are people who are always waiting in the sidelines hoping to remove you from your position.

 Make sure that there is law and order in your community. Teach your subjects to respect each other and let proper protocol be followed in community events like Kgotla meetings, funerals and wedding ceremonies. Remember, our forebears say, “Naga e senang khudutlou, bo lebeto ba ipha naga” loosely meaning, where there is no proper authority and protocol, there is lawlessness.

 Your must always present yourself in a manner that will not bring your good office into disrepute. Make sure you are always smart and appropriately dressed for different occasions. A poorly dressed Kgosi brings mockery upon himself. Never overindulge in public because your subjects are going to see your nakedness. Avoid drinking too much alcohol in public because you might start behaving in a way that you won’t be able to face your subjects the following day.

Don’t practice gluttony because a Kgosi who eats too much is always a laughing stock of his subjects. Make sure that your office and your house is always clean because you are bound to host dignitaries of a higher standing than you. If you live in a clean environment, you won’t have to do a walk of shame if you get a surprise visit from a high profile person.

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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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