If Thursday’s parliamentary session over the Bogosi Bill is anything to go-by, then the bill’s progress hangs in the balance.
MPs from across the political divide continue to contribute, albeit with mixed feelings, but with those against the bill breathing fire and almost eclipsing the pro-bill members in numbers.
Opposition Kgatleng East MP, Isaac Mabiletsa, accused and attributed the bill to Local Government minister, Margaret Nasha, arguing that she designed the bill to suit her ministerial post and needs at the expense of Dikgosi.
“Dikgosi are not supposed to be dictated to and influenced by the minister.
Dikgosi are determined and controlled by morafe. Morafe appoints their Kgosi and have much say and control of their Dikgosi. These are the Setswana traditional norms that are practiced in the country and elsewhere outside where traditional leaders are in existence. For the minister to accord herself with such unlimited powers to the extent of taking over the role of morafe by deposing and suspending Kgosi is absurd and uncalled for,” fumed Mabiletsa.
He argued that such a dramatic twist of an episode has the propensity to bring bad omen to the tribe and to the person so appointed by the minister to take over the throne.
The bill suggests the minister may appoint any person to act as a Kgosi in place of the Kgosi who may have been suspended and whose appeal against his or her suspension has been dismissed.
Mabiletsa maintains “tradition dictates that no other person could occupy the throne when the incumbent and the rightful owner is still alive. The rightful heir must face some demise first and ascendancy by another initiated later.
He also slapped the government for having been outwitted by South Africa whose laws regarding tradition are explicitly elaborate.
He said the South African traditional leadership framework Act explicitly reveals the traditional roles of Dikgosi unlike the Bogosi bill, which portrays the roles so ambiguously and in general terms.
Among other functions outlined in the bill, the Dikgosi are to carry out lawful instructions given to them by the minister.
Mabiletsa is completely against the clause, saying Dikgosi, by their nature, are lawful and, as such, it is bizarre that they should receive lawful instructions from the minister.
“Such a clause by the minister undermines the integrity of Dikgosi since Dikgosi are disciplinarians.”
The Kgatleng East MP said the reason the educated Dikgosi were disinterested in the institution preferring, instead, to try their luck in politics was largely because the present government undermines Bogosi.
He cited Kgosi Tawana and Kgosi Ian Khama as walking examples, adding that the duo vacated their traditional thrones because “Bogosi has been degenerated to a lower position”.
He said Kgosi are disregarded by the government and, to add insult to injury, are lowly paid.
“Our party’s stand is that Dikgosi should make laws in relation to their tribe’s tradition not as they are currently relegated to- the advisory body to the government.”
He said the bill was crafted to empower Nasha and not to capacitate Dikgosi.
“The bill dictates the minister to interfere much in the affairs of Bogosi and minister Nasha seems to be enjoying mediating in the affairs of morafe. The bill lacks elegance and consistence with traditions and I therefore could not support this bad piece of legislation.”
Shoshong MP Duke Lefhoko took the cue and further thrashed to pieces the bill describing it as “a replica of the old colonial chieftaincy Act”.
He said the bill had rubbed his ‘employers’ in Shoshong and himself the wrong way.
Lefhoko poked fun at the clause that calls for the Dikgosi to retire, adding that Dikgosi in their life time never go on retirement.
He told parliament Bogosi is hereditary and the rightful heir to the throne usurps power only after the death of another.
“The retirement clause is contrary to the traditional norms.”
Answering an intervention by minister Nasha, he said the Bogosi has its mechanisms to cater for deficiencies such as old age and, therefore, it was improper for the minister to retire Dikgosi.
“Morafe knows what to do with such deficiencies like old age and other ailments. The minister should not impose any clauses to retire Dikgosi”.
He said Morafe was responsible for the installation of Kgosi and, as such, all rests with Morafe to decide.