Bakgatla paramount Chief Kgafela II has approached the Government asking to be allowed to appoint Members of the Land Board in Kgatleng.
To reclaim the powers that chiefs lost to politicians in the post-independence Botswana, Kgafela has sent, as his emissary, the former minister, Ray Molomo, to inform the minister of Lands and Housing that land within the Kgatleng District belongs to Bakgatla tribal community and that, as the tribe’s principal custodian, the chief should play a role in its distribution.
A former Speaker of the National Assembly, Molomo is also a close relative of Kgafela’s.
At the centre of Kgafela’s displeasure is the strained relationship between the royal family and the Land Board.
It is understood that, among other things, the royal family remains unhappy with the land board for giving Mascom a 50-year lease agreement for its transmitter that is located at the top of Phuthadikobo Hill, an area widely believed to be a part of the royal territory where their ancestors are rested.
It is understood that Kgafela wants the Land Board to be answerable to the Kgosi instead of the minister as is the case.
Prior to Independence, land allocation was in the hands of the Chiefs. However, following the enactment of the Tribal Land Act the mandate was taken over by Land boards.
Dikgosi have never forgiven the political leadership for this disempowerment.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Molomo confirmed the meeting with minister Molefhi but denied that he had been sent to brief the minister about the Chief’s views concerning land allocation in Kgatleng.
“That’s not true. I was sent to request him on the selection of land board members and whether he could allow the Chief to nominate for him,” he said.
Molomo stated that, from his understanding, Kgafela merely wanted to assist in the nomination of Land Board members since he lives in Kgatleng and, unlike the minister, knows the people in Kgatleng better.
He said that his efforts, however, did not yield any positive results as Molefhi turned down the request.
“The minister refused and I informed the Chief,” Molomo stated.
At the time of going to press the Bakgatla leader was not available for comment as he was reported to be on holiday.
In a separate interview, minister Molefhi refused to shed light on his meeting with Molomo.
He said he would not allow an invasion of his office’s confidentiality ethics by the media.
“My office upholds confidentiality and I, therefore, cannot discuss such issues in the public domain,” said Molefhi.