Saturday, January 22, 2022

Khama, cabinet shunned Kgafela II

The looming constitutional trial in which Bakgatla paramount chief Kgosi Kgafela II is challenging the legitimacy of the constitution of Botswana would never have reached the courts of law if President Ian Khama, his cabinet and senior government officials had not snubbed Kgafela II’s attempts at dialogue.

In his application, Kgafela is expected to drag the whole government to court, including President Khama and his cabinet, former President Ketumile Masire, senior government officials, as well as Members of Parliament and the House of Chiefs.

Sunday Standard is informed that Kgafela’s efforts to meet President Khama were repeatedly rebuffed, while negotiations with senior government officials failed to bear fruit.

In a surprising revelation, Kgafela said he would not have launched the constitutional challenge if government had not insisted on prosecuting him and his tribesmen for alleged illegal floggings in Kgatleng.

“It is not in my interest to haul anyone to court and cause them anxiety. However, let it be recorded that I have made honest and very humble efforts to speak to some senior members of the executive, including Khama, to warn them that this constitutional challenge will arise if they insist on prosecuting me,” said Kgafela.

He revealed that he sent then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Ramadeluka Seretse to inform Khama that he wished to discuss issues of national security with him, and also seek realistic alternatives to his prosecution.

His request was met with silence. He was also rebuffed by the Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Isaac Kgosi.

“Mr. Kgosi walked away thinking that I am crazy,” said Kgafela.

Never one to give up, Kgafela then sent his subject, Botswana Defence Force Commander Carter Masire, to relay yet another message to Khama. Still there was no response.

A subsequent letter and phone call requesting an audience with Lebonaamang Mokalake, Minister of Local Government, also proved futile.

In a letter dated 27 May 2010, Mokalake told Kgafela that he found it inappropriate to meet with him to discuss matters that were already a subject of litigation and criminal charges.
Senior members of the Bakgatla tribe also sought audience with Khama, and returned with a report that Khama was “playing God as usual, with the assistance of the Attorney General”.

Kgafela said Khama was largely dismissive of the alarm bells sounded by the elders.

What irks Kgafela most is that, after snubbing his requests for a meeting, Khama publicly attacked him and his tribe’s cultural practices.

“Amidst these attempts at dialogue, Khama has gone public to criticise what I stand for in the employment of culture to resolve community issues. He did so without the benefit of hearing me. He mounted surreptitious attacks on our cultural practices during the state of the nation address, shortly after my release from jail,” said Kgafela.

He also expressed disappointment at the fact that government decided to proceed with his prosecution while he was in intense negotiations with the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General.

“They instituted this prosecution behind my back. They preferred to lock me up instead of talking to me,” said Kgafela.

He conceded that he is aware that the executive considers themselves as having no obligation to talk to him if they do not wish to do so. He, however, reminded cabinet that their refusal to talk to him is effectively a refusal to talk to Bakgatla. Left with no alternative, Kgafela said he is forced to talk to them through the courts of law and eventually demonstrate that “their cabinet is nothing but a fraud in purpose and action”.

In fact, said Kgafela, Khama and his cabinet’s refusal to meet him is evidence of fraud because one cannot truthfully purport to represent the people when they refuse to talk to them. Kgafela said it was never his intention to hurt or attack anyone, but warned that people will get hurt, because proof of fraud has collateral damage.

“I have always wanted to talk, and I want it recorded,” he said.

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