Gaborone South West MP, Robert Molefhabangwe, would not support the proposed Bogosi bill presented by Local Government Minister, Margaret Nasha, as it smacks of the past colonial era and has the potential to stir the nation and breed chaos.
Contributing to the debate on Wednesday, Molefhabangwe unequivocally denounced the bill arguing that it was improper for the minister to remove Kgosi from his or her traditional birth right seat.
“How on earth could an individual remove Kgosi from his traditional seat? The minister did not crown Kgosi with the lion’s skin and, as such, could not remove Kgosi from his traditional seat. Morafe crowns Kgosi and his removal from the post by the minister, as suggested by the bill, is against the traditional norms. Morafe plays a very pivotal role in Kgosi’s destiny – not an individual minister.”
Molefhabangwe castigated the initiative saying it has the prospects to spark tension and instability in the country.
On Monday, minister Nasha presented the Bogosi bill to parliament and, among other things, the bill sought parliament to approve the removal of Kgosi from his duties in the event he is incapable of exercising his or her powers, has abused powers or is being insubordinate.
The bill also sought parliament to approve the removal of Kgosi should he refuse to carry lawful orders or is, for any reason, not fit and proper person to be a Kgosi.
The bill also sort that, during his absence, the minister may appoint any person to act as a Kgosi without the intervention of Morafe.
But the appointment of any person to act as a Kgosi on behalf of an expelled traditional leader nauseates Molefhabangwe and he firmly believes it cannot happen in his lifetime.
“I come from at Ga-Mmangwato and we usually attend Kgotla meetings carrying knobkerries. If the minister would come with any person to assume the responsibilities of our Kgosi, I would deal with them with my knobkerrie. Kgosi can not be removed from the post by the minister, neither can any person assume the post as suggested by the bill.”
Molefhabangwe is adamant the bill was designed to fulfill personal political interests as it failed to address the known traditional values and norms of Bogosi.
He maintains the bill gives the minister all the powers as evidenced by the indiscriminate appointment of any person to replace the deposed Kgosi and the sole appointment of Mothusa Kgosi by the minister.
“How could the voice of the minister supersede that of Kgosi when in dispute of who to choose as Mothusa Kgosi? Mothusa Kgosi is appointed to assist Kgosi in day to day Kgotla duties and their relationship should be cordial. To give the minister a final decision over such a standoff is an anomaly,” Molefhabangwe argued.
According to the bill, in the event the minister and Kgosi disagree as to the choice of Mothusa Kgosi, the matter shall be decided by the minister who shall appoint such person to be Mothusa Kgosi as he or she considers appropriate.
About the limiting retirement age of Dikgosi to 70, the Gaborone South West MP poured scorn over the amendment, stressing “Dikgosi never retire.”
Molefhabangwe gave an example of Kgosi Mochudi of Bakwena, Kgosi Linchwe and Kgosi Gaborone whose stay in office ran until their demise. It was only after their deaths that ascendancy was reached, he said.
“Dikgosi never retire. You can not crown another Kgosi when the incumbent is still alive. That would be against our traditional values and norms of Batswana. You can not have two crowned Dikgosi at the same time. If you crown such a Kgosi you are almost killing him because no sooner would you crown him than he becomes imbecile (Kgosi ya teng e a hema).”
Though he later retracted the statement, the maverick MP said a similar incident nearly happened in Kanye where the government deposed Kgosi Seepapitso to replace him with his son and today “the son is not well.”
Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, is yet to see the positive outcome about tribal identity. All his life, he said, he has encountered many social ills emanating from these tribal identities.
To him tribal identity is the “source and the root of problems in Africa and promotes under development,” he said, adding that ethnic wars, disintegration and, to some extent, corruption are attributable to tribal identity.
“I consider myself urbanite and it is perhaps for this reason that, together with my peers, we do not worry ourselves with tribal identity. Even the youths of today are detribalized and are convenient with the way they live. Instead of bickering and arguing about their tribal origins youth of today watch movies.”
He lambasted institutions that promote tribalism, including the police, whose duty documents display tribalism.
Ntuane also hailed the government for formulating laws that permit Batswana to reside anywhere they wish saying such development promotes nation building.
But he was, however, unhappy that while the government promotes cosmopolitan society, there was a part in the same provision that requires a person willing to become a member of a tribe to seek admission and permission from the kgosi of such a tribe.
“Such a requirement could spark tension as residents would, as a result of shortage of land in the area, want to know aliens who have occupied their land in the locality.”
The outspoken MP prefers the stifling part of the provision to be repealed so that “anybody could stay anywhere he wishes even in the proximity of his enemy without the approval of Kgosi.”