The Bakgatla Baga Kgafela have criticized Vice President Let. Gen Mompati Merafhe, castigating him for addressing a kgotla meeting without consultation and approval by their paramount chief Kgosi Kgafela.
The kgotla meeting, on Thursday morning at Mochudi main kgotla, was held during the absence of their leader Kgosi Kgafela, his brothers, his uncles and other senior royal family members.
The Bakgatla expected Merafhe to start by addressing the burning issue of why government de-recognised Kgosi Kgafela as the paramount chief in October last year.
Merafhe was welcomed by Kgatleng District Commissioner Wame Samapipi, whose office the government says is the official point of contact for official visits in the district as part of the procedure.
Merafhe stated that his main purpose in visiting Mochudi was for consultation on the development in the district and also to get views of the Bakgatla on the ongoing issue between the government and Kgafela. He criticized the tribe for not allowing in senior government officials and added that it is unethical, undemocratic and brings no peace and development in the area. ┬á┬á
Merafhe stated that┬áhis visit to Mochudi is in line with the consultation for further development┬á and service delivery to Batswana.
“We cannot have certain laws in Botswana that are used on certain tribes because of their attitude and other different laws from one tribe to another,” said Merafhe.
The Vice President maintained that the Bakgatla chieftainship lacks the spirit of cooperation and criticized some elders who he said are negatively influencing Kgafela on many matters and mislead him. He further cited examples during his 14-year term as Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he was mediator in countries that had internal civil wars such as Australia and Nigeria. He said that a war is a big drawback in every development. “I led the BDF for years peacefully and respectfully with the spirit of consultation,” he said.
Merafhe said that everyone employed by the government, including Dikgosi and Dikgosana, should obey the government code of conduct and added that no one is above the law in the country.
“I am here to get your views in these issues and am pleased that you expressed yourselves with passion on issues of chieftainship matters and Kgatleng is not different from any other village,” said Merafhe. ┬á┬á┬á┬á
A villager, Jabafu Rammala, said the government takes Bakgatla lightly; he pleaded with Merafhe and the entire government not to use their powers to control their leaders only because they are under government payroll. He also asked Merafhe to use the same spirit of consultation and mediation like he did when he was Foreign Affairs minister.
Another villager, Letlotlo Phatshwane, stated that the government is heading in the direction of destroying Mochudi and is not in the spirit of reconciliation.
“We the Bakgatla have an identity that we want to maintain and we do not want to be divided,” said one Mogapi Mogetsi.