Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Minister Kgafela’s inglorious past comes back to haunt him

Eight years after the fact, a man who is now the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development and Mochudi West MP was reminded about a past incident he would rather forget.In 2009, Kgafela, who is the younger brother to the Bakgatla kgosikgolo, Kgosi Kgafela II, was one of the speakers at a kgotla meeting in Mochudi that discussed the presence of a Mascom Botswana cellphone tower on Phuthadikobo Hill. Kgafela’s royal position makes him a kgosi (traditional leader) and that was how Mmegi referred to him in its reportage of this meeting: “Kgosi (chief) Mmusi, a lawyer by profession, told the kgotla meeting that the tower is a serious health hazard not fit to be erected in the middle of the village.

He said the late Bakgatla Paramount Chief, Linchwe II, died of a brain tumour associated with radiation transmitted by the tower. He said Linchwe’s wife is also persistently ill, and they suspect it could be one of the diseases associated with the tower.” Thereafter, a contingent of a Bakgatla regiment “climbed up the hill to inspect the Mascom tower so that they can properly equip themselves with the right tools to bring it down when the time finally comes.”The tower, which was valued at P1.4 million, was not brought down but vandalised to such degree that it could no longer relay signals. Then would follow an investigation and court case in which Kgafela was one of the accused.

While there was no direct evidence, the Southern Regional Magistrate Court convicted all accused people, who included Kgafela’s younger brother, Bakgatla Kgafela and President of the Customary Court of Appeal (South), Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe. The conviction was made on the basis of what had been said at the 2009 kgotla meeting.Eight years later, Kgafela is a ruling-party MP and when parliament met for a special COVID-19 session, he attempted to pre-empt a motion that the Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, had signaled he planned to table.

Kgafela quoted provisions in the standing orders to back up his argument. Following a short debate, the Speaker, Phandu Skelemani, ruled that the motion could be tabled. Upon having the last word, Saleshando said that it was ironic that he was being quoted the law by someone who enlisted the services of a tribal age-regiment to vandalise public property. He said just that one sentence, that would have sounded cryptic to those without this background.


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