President Ian Khama has declined calls made on him to write a letter committing himself that exiled Bakgatla Paramount Kgosi, Kgafela of Bakgatla, will not be arrested and made to face renewed prosecution if he were to come back home.
Kgosi Kgafela is currently in self-imposed exile in Moruleng, South Africa.
He fled to South Africa at the height of his dispute with the Botswana government that were a part of his legal difficulties with authorities.
While at the time Kgafela’s legal difficulties were mainly criminal in nature, Sunday Standard has since learnt that he fled the country after he was tipped that plans were afoot inside government to charge him with treason.
It is, however, not yet clear what actions on his part would have led to such a high-stake charge.
At a recent meeting with former minister Peter Siele, who has been acting as Botswana government’s envoy in the negotiations with Kgafela, the Bakgatla traditional leader requested him to furnish him to provide an explicit assurance from Khama that he would not be arrested were he to come back.
Kgafela is said to have told Siele that such an assurance would have to be in the form of a written letter from the President.
It was then that government rebuffed, Sunday Standard has learnt, leading to the collapse of negotiations that were supposed to end with Kgafela coming back home.
The outstanding matter of Kgafela is said to be a hot potato polarising not just in Cabinet but also among other arms in government.
While Cabinet is in principle determined to make concessions that will bring Kgafela back, on the other hand, their efforts are made difficult by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that is not playing ball. The DPP has steadfastly refused all overtures to have charges against Kgafela dropped.
“Legally speaking, the DPP is right. But then Cabinet is also right in that the whole matter has gone beyond law to become a political matter. The matter should be handled by the Attorney General who is also a member of Cabinet,” said a government source close to the negotiations. Another headache for government is Kgafela’s demands which are said to becoming stringent. Kgafela is said to have made the issue of his assistant, Kgosi Bana Sekai, a part of his negotiating tools. He wants Sekai reinstated.
“Kgosi Kgafela has also made it clear that the issue of his assistant, Kgosi Bana Sekai is non-negotiable,” said the same source.
Early on government had created an impression that Kgafela was going to be back by the time the country celebrated 50 years of independence.
Kgafela and Sekai were part of a group that was charged with flogging some of their tribesmen.
Except for Kgafela and Sekai all the others who had been charged have had their charges dropped after government facilitated reconciliation between the aggrieved and the accused.
This has not gone down well with the tribe that feel that somehow Kgafela and Sekai are being singled out for persecution.