Thursday, June 20, 2024

Khama formalised transfer of royal power last year

In the past, former president, Ian Khama, has publicly stated that in the event that he is unable to produce a male heir, his younger brother, Tshekedi, would succeed him as Bangwato kgosi. The nature of bogosi (inherited traditional leadership) is such that Tshekedi will be succeeded by his own and only son, Kaedi. Sunday Standard now learns from royal sources that late last year, Khama met privately with Bangwato regent, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at the main tribal kgotla in Serowe to formalise such transfer of royal power. Khama was accompanied by Tshekedi himself – and Kaedi.

Going back to last year, Khama has continually alleged that there is a state plot to assassinate him. The government, notably the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services, has dismissed such allegations and some have come to view Khama’s consistent pronouncements about such plot as an inept play for public sympathy. However, what Khama is said to have told Kgamane during that meeting casts this issue in a completely different light.

“He told Kgamane that ‘should anything happen to me, Tshekedi should replace me as kgosi’,” says a royal source with knowledge of Khama’s meeting with Kgamane.

One interpretation of this statement is that whether the threats are real or not, Khama genuinely believes that his life is in danger. To be clear though, the statement was not made in the context of perceived threats to his life.

While Khama has a lot of say in who succeeds him as kgosi, the process of transferring power to somebody else is actually much more elaborate than leaving instructions with the current regent. In terms of centuries-old protocol, Khama is supposed to consult widely with members of the royal family – especially descendants of Tshekedi Khama, whose house is the second most senior. Such consultation has not occurred and should anything happen to Khama, Tshekedi will, based on instructions that Khama gave Kgamane, expect to take over the reins of royal power. There will be resistance to that because there has been no consultation on a commodity that Setswana culture essentially views as a tribal good.

The bigger question  though is whether Tshekedi, who is the Serowe West MP and Botswana Patriotic Front Secretary General, will take up post at the Bangwato main kgotla in Serowe. In just four years, the Bangwato will reach a dubious landmark – a full century of regency. Ever since the 1925 death of Kgosi Sekgoma, Khama’s grandfather, regency has become the norm for the tribe’s bogosi and nothing suggests that as kgosi, Tshekedi would deviate from this norm. some senior members of the royal family want this to change.

“We want someone who can revive the main kgotla,” says a royal source, part-explaining why Kgosi Tshekedi Khama’s grandson, Seretse Khama, had been earmarked for the regency before palace intrigue knocked him off the pedestal.

While they have never been publicly vocal, a good many members of the royal family are concerned that Khama has prioritised politics over his tribal duties at the kgotla.  Officially, he has stated that he wants to concentrate on his philanthropic work. Some don’t see this as a good enough reason because he can do such work from the kgotla and for him, there can be no greater responsibility than bogosi.

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