Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Malope II clashes with Mokalake during enthronement?

The stage seems to be set for a potential skirmish between the Minister of Local Government, Lebonaamang Mokalake, and the Bangwaketse Paramount Chief Malope II.

The two traded subtle blows on Friday during Malope II’s enthronement. While Mokalake insisted that Malope II is a public servant, the Bangwaketse paramount chief remained adamant that bogosi reigns supreme, adding that he has no regard for politics and politicians in his kgotla.

When he stood to address Malope II, Mokalake reminded him that he is “now a civil servant” and urged him to complement government’s peace keeping and nation building efforts.

He told Malope II that Bangwaketse are part of Botswana, and dissuaded him from trying to seek an independent existence and identity from that of Botswana. He said government runs this country in partnership with bogosi, as they regularly consult dikgosi at the House of Chiefs.

“Your job, as a chief, is to foster nation building. You should not peddle propaganda that will divide this nation. I urge you to perform your duties as diligently as your father would have done. I speak on behalf of this government. On behalf of President Ian Khama,” said Mokalake.

He added that the kgosi’s main responsibility is not to flog people and mete out punishment, but rather to build the nation and forge unity within his tribe.

“Eighty percent of our judicial cases are handled by dikgosi, which is proof of their indispensable role. But your main role is not to mete out punishment and flog people. You must not be too harsh on your people, lest they revolt against you,” warned Mokalake.

When he took to the podium to give his inaugural address as paramount chief, Malope II hit back at Mokalake.

“These are times of political turmoil and uncertainty in Botswana. But politics have no place in my kgotla. Here we speak with respect and seek peace and unity,” he said.

He urged Batswana to revive their culture and start respecting the role of dikgosi. He reminded Bangwaketse that politics found Batswana in existence, and that politics do not form the core and essence of the existence of Botswana.

“Dikgosi are the core of our identity. They define who we are and what we stand for. Bogosi was here before politics,” he said.

He urged Batswana to introspect and ask themselves who and what they aspire to be.
Perhaps Mokalake and Malope II’s subtle altercation is a preview of a harsher and more brutal clash. For a long time, dikgosi have been complaining that government is sidelining them, whittling away their powers and making them irrelevant.

Malope’s rebuttal, and his demeanour, invokes the memory of his father Seepapitso IV. He was never one to shy away from controversy. Those who are close to the royal family have opined that the Gaseitsiwe’s swagger and disdain for politicians, as evidenced by Malope II on Friday and his father before him, can be attributed to their royalty and their immense political influence. That is why, they say, Bangwaketse have always provided this nation with the most active and most influential dikgosi.

Seepapitso IV’s brushes with authority are legendary. He once publicly castigated then Vice President Ian Khama for abdicating his responsibilities as a kgosi for politics. He was once suspended by then Local Government Minister Chapson Butale for failing to cooperate with government during a visit by a Zambian president.

He was suspended from duty, but later reinstated after dragging government to court. In what was seen as a backlash for their ill-treatment of Seepapitso IV, the BDP lost the next elections in Kanye. Government would later banish Seepapitso IV to Washington, where he served as Ambassador to the United States. Pundits have posited that, just like his father, Malope II will not take kindly to unnecessary state intervention in the affairs of Bangwaketse.

Mokalake’s unprovoked utterances might also be attributed to government’s frustrations with yet another paramount chief Kgafela II. Government has previously accused Kgafela II of trying to turn Kgatleng into a state within a state.

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