Some three years ago, July 2012 to be precise, I sat down with Kgosi Maruje III Masunga for an interview that was published in the Sunday Standard. I asked him to explain the role, the relevance and the importance of a Kgosi in the society. He described a Kgosi as someone who should instil the spirit of oneness amongst his subjects. He said a Kgosi must instil the spirit of community over individualism. He said a Kgosi is the embodiment of hope to his subjects. He said a Kgosi must inculcate a sense of belonging and responsibility amongst his people. I had also asked for his views on Dikgosi who join politics and his response was that it is good to have Dikgosi at political level because they will help advance the needs of Bogosi. He was worried that politicians have amassed all the resources, much to the disadvantage of Dikgosi. He said this phenomenon makes Dikgosi less resourceful and in the end appear useless and irrelevant in the eyes of the society. I never asked him to reveal his political views or affiliation and as such, reference here is only limited to his explanation of the roles of Dikgosi. So, it is important that I hasten to state, before any political party gets excited, that Kgosi Maruje never ever confided in me which political party has his sympathy. What I can however reveal is the fact that he is young and educated and has the best interest of his people at heart. Being a young and educated person, Kgosi Maruje for sure knows how a good government ought to operate and can easily tell when a government is failing the people. And I want to believe all Dikgosi, just like Kgosi Maruje, have the best interest of their people at heart. It is my belief that all Dikgosi want to be well resourced so they can become useful to their people.
It is my belief that all Dikgosi want to play a role in how their people are led and governed. It goes without saying, that all Dikgosi want to have influence on policies, laws and regulations that are imposed on their people. Now given all that which Dikgosi want to do for their people, it is only plausible that they will seek avenues that allow them to effectively perform their role. Dikgosi will seek those platforms that allow them to serve their people effectively. With Bogosi gradually falling into oblivion and insignificance, it makes sense why they are now leaving the Kgotla and moving to Parliament. With Dikgosi now being relegated to mere spectators in the running of the country by politicians, it comes as no surprise that they are now turning to politics where they too can become players and not spectators. Dikgosi are now realising that their vocation has been reduced to nothing more than just ceremonial standing in society with no authority to write home about.
As I have mentioned earlier, Kgosi Maruje said a Kgosi must be the embodiment of hope to his subjects. Now with the society viewing Dikgosi as hopeless and politicians as messiahs, it is only proper that Dikgosi turn to politics in their bid to revive the hope that the society look for in them. Politicians are viewed as more caring because they have resourced their offices well, thus allowing themselves the opportunity to reach out to the people while Dikgosi remain stuck at the Kgotla with no adequate resources to reach their people. This has therefore led to Dikgosi ditching the Kgotla and joining politics where they will be well resourced to reach out to their people. Dikgosi want power and nowadays the only profession that comes with power is politics. Ian Khama chose politics over chieftaincy simply because the former commands power and authority while the latter only affords societal respect with diminished authority. Kgosi Tawana Moremi left Bogosi and joined politics because he felt his voice would be better heard in parliament than at the Kgotla. He felt he could only influence policies and laws when he is in parliament as opposed to when he was at the Kgotla. With the BDP failing to unite the nation, it will not be surprising to see more Chiefs joining politics in their bid to do what the BDP is failing to do for the people. The recent by-election in Goodhope/Mabule should give the BDP goose bumps. I was shocked that the BDP uses Kgosi Letlaamoreng’s royalty as a consolation to their loss but they fail to interrogate why the people seem to trust Dikgosi and not politicians. The message the BDP should decipher from this trend of loyalty towards royalty is that the people no longer have faith in politicians. So if the BDP does not make the majority of the people happy, as it was evidenced by their performance in the last general elections where they got less than 50 percent of the popular vote, we are likely to see more Chiefs joining politics. They say ‘Kgosi ke kgosi ka batho’ and if we agree that a lot of our people are not happy with the BDP, we must agree that these lots of people will encourage their Chiefs to come to their rescue by joining politics. It is becoming apparently clear most of our Dikgosi are not happy with the BDP. A lot of them may not be saying it in public, for now, but a trend is taking shape where they are now trying to regain their power through politics. During the 2011 industrial strike, some Dikgosi defied an order from the BDP-led government which sought to deny union leaders the opportunity to address people at the Kgotla. This rebellion by Dikgosi was a clear sign of how Dikgosi are fed up with the BDP and are now saying ‘voetsek”. Watch the space as more and more Dikgosi join politics in their bid to reclaim their power which the BDP government has eroded beyond salvation.
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