Thursday, August 13, 2020

Matlapeng Ray Molomo revisited

This week we return to the late Matlapeng Ray Molomo’s story. Readers, who have been following my articles, will remember that in one such articles, I made it clear that stories about that son of the soil will take long to be declared stale. Stories don’t easily get stale. It is all about angling. The reason why it has become necessary to revisit Molomo’s life story is a recent courtsey call paid to her widow, Motlhagodi Molomo at her home in Mochudi by a group of elders who had teamed up with the deceased to help village leaders to get out of the problems they were facing following the infamous public flocking of people in the village. Molomo was a founder member of that group which unfortunately became the most hated in the village because of its strong opposition to gangsterism.        

The onslaught on the Elders Group was led by Deputy Kgosi Sekai Linchwe supported by a faction of Mangana regiment and a few others. But contrary to the hatred Sekai and his henchmen were spreading, the Elders’ Group had never advocated for the removal of Sekai from office. Its main focus was on service delivery at the kgotla which had been stopped abruptly by the traditional leadership with the hope of forcing the government to bow down to pressure to their demands most of which were unreasonable and silly. Those demands included withdrawal of criminal charges against the suspects in the flogging case. I was a member of that group. I have first-hand information. Toppling Sekai or trying to undermine Kgosi Kgafela II has never been in its agenda. Mischief was spread by Sekai to divert people’s attention to real issues.  Personally, I would not conspire with anybody to undermine Kgafela because of my relationship with him and his late father, Kgosi Linchwe II. Our relationship was tied up like an umbilical cord.  

In the propaganda war that ensued, Sekai and his lieutenants were always ahead of the Elders’ Group because they used media houses such as Duma FM effectively to portray the Elders’ Group in bad light. Sekai, Moagi Molebatsi, Montshiwa Mabudisa used every opportunity at their disposal to publicly abuse the Elders. The Elders initially treated their affairs as internal matters. By the time they started issuing press releases, they had suffered irreparable harm.In one of my previous articles, I indicated that several people who knew that Sekai did not like Ray Molomo asked how and why he was included in the funeral programme. At that time I was not aware if Sekai was unwanted at the funeral. I added that even if it were so, the family’s decision to include him in the programme’s list of speakers should be respected. After my interaction with family members, I am now in a position to confirm that indeed Rre Molomo did not want Sekai at his funeral. He had told his family that since it was of public knowledge that Sekai did not like him, he too did not want him to attend his funeral. It was therefore against Sekai attending and speaking at his funeral. Perhaps this explains why most people felt his speech was not inspiring. They say it did not reflect that of someone who knew the veteran politician well.

Alternatively it could be that Sekai did not shine at the funeral because he did not want to glorify the man with whom he had been at loggerheads for sometime. Kgosi Mothibe was the family’s preferred candidate but it is understood that he declined the request when he was approached because it would send a wrong message to Sekai’s henchmen. Unlike Sekai, Mothibe is someone who calculates and consults before taking a decision on a delicate issue. He knew that had he accepted, he was going to be made a scapegoat. It was going to be suggested that he was planning to topple Sekai. So his decision to decline to speak at the funeral was a clever move. He should be commended even if his decision may seem disappointing to the Ray Molomo’s family. They will understand the circumstances in which he found himself.         

During the courtsey call, the Elders’ chairman, Letlotlo Koping paid glowing tribute to Rre Molomo saying his contribution to the group’s area of concern was in measurable and that was why he appeared to be giving Sekai a headache. He thanked Mrs Molomo and her family for having loaned her husband to the Elders’ Group at a time when the village was going through dark period because of people who refused the intervention of elders in an abnormal situation for political reasons. Mrs Molomo also spoke at length echoing among other things, her late husband’s sentiments that the Elders Group should transform into a pressure group where it would liaise with other development committees such as the village development and district development committees to develop the district.        

Ray Molomo was a fearless, outspoken and uncompromising figure. Those in his group, who had not known him, got to know him well on 15th January 2013. Sekai had been playing hide and seek when the Elders requested for a meeting with him and other royal uncles. He is very good at playing hide and seek. He can tell you that his diary is inundated with issues when it not. When it was finally confirmed that Sekai and the royal uncles had agreed for a meeting on that day, the Elders readied themselves for a total onslaught because they had predicted that a date with the royal uncles would be the last such ever direct contact. They had agreed that they should use intellectual skill to outdo Sekai whose only skill was the abuse of the kgotla system. Besides Sekai, the January meeting was also attended by among others, Kgosi Mothibe, Kgosi Segale, Molefi Linchwe and Montshiwa. Montshiwa was very disorderly in that meeting refusing to speak through the chair as he argued. Hell broke loose.Entries in my diary show that Molomo was furious and not mincing his words when he confronted the royal uncles. He is quoted as telling royal uncles through Sekai to stop thinking that they “have the monopoly of wisdom on matters affecting chieftainship”.  He said the reason why the royal uncles did not want to consult with the Elders’ Group was because they “have the mistaken belief that chieftainship is their property to the exclusion of the people they lead”.  He accused them of not finding time to meet with Elders Group but found time to go to Moruleng “to break stadium gates in a foreign country”. Previous press reports had  reported that a large group of Bakgatla who had travelled from Mochudi to Moruleng forced their way into the local stadium by breaking gates while Kgosi Nyalala Pilane was about to address his people.        

No doubt, Sekai was feeling the heat when listing to Ray Molomo tearing him into pieces. When asked to confirm reports that he had appointed himself regent of Bakgatla, he replied, “I am just the suspended deputy Kgosi”, adding he was even considering quitting the position to return to “dimausu tsa me tsa dibese” (public transport business). Moments later Sekai stopped paying attention to the deliberations of the meeting by concentrating on his cell phone. When asked to pay attention to the meeting and not his cellphone, he produced a violent response. He is quoted in the diary as saying “golo fa meeting o, o ntseetse nako ya go kopana le bana ba ke tshwanetseng go baisa ko DPP ka moso. Ba ntse ba mpotsa ka sms go re ba dire jang. Ke ba raya kere ba nkemele ga se go re ke buwa le banyana golo fa” (this meeting has gone beyond the time I was to meeting with children I am supposed to drive to DPP tomorrow. They have been asking me through sms to say what they should now do. I am telling them to wait for me it is not that I am talking to girls). Ray Molomo was a key figure in the promotion of regimentation. He participated at all the eight male regiments which Kgosi Linchwe initiated. These are the Masoso (1975, (Madingwana (1976),  Malomakgomo (1980, Mangana (1982) Manoga (1985) and Matukwi (1989). If people who participated at only one regiment could be given regimental funeral by Sekai, why did he not extend the same to Ray Molomo further reaffirms that hatred of him clouded the decision makers.They say every cloud has silver lining. Ten months later, on 8th October to be precise, Sekai met the Elders again. He was in a sober mood that day as the meeting ended without confrontation. He discussed issues on the agenda peacefully and was forthcoming with information.

He dealt with attempts to extradite Kgafela to Botswana saying he had been told by lawyers that extradition does not cover minor offences such as the one Kgafela is facing. His opinion was that Kgafela could only be brought back to Botswana if abducted. One of the things he admitted was that things were not smooth for Kgosi Kgafela. He confirmed that the Kgosi had been forcibly removed from the office at Moruleng kgotla and that he was staying outside that village. He said the security around the Kgosi had been tightened. He accepted the advice from the Elders that security should be extended to the Kgosi’s children since they could be kidnapped on their ways to or from school. Sekai was also not indifferent to a suggestion that the traditional leadership in Moruleng be invited for a meeting in Mochudi. The idea was to establish rapport with them with the ultimate being to ask them to look after Kgafela. The meeting with a delegation from Moruleng royals did take place but did not achieve its purpose as the visitors demanded that their Mochudi colleagues take steps to bring Kgafela back to his Mochudi. They also put Mochudi on notice that sooner or later Moruleng would break away and have a Kgosi of their choice.

Sekai’s attitude to the Elders’ Group was like the weather which keeps changing. Today it is partly cloudy the following day it is hot and windy. It was just like that. My diary shows that he enjoyed it very much when the relationship between Kgafela and Mothibe was at its lowest ebb. At one meeting, in apparent reference to Mothibe he said “go na le borangwane wa kgosi ba Kgosikgolo a sa ba be eng sebete” meaning that there are royal uncles who Kgafela did not trust.

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