A wrangle is brewing over the new multi-million Pula Palapye Police Station as residents threaten to boycott its use if it is not accorded their proposed name.
While government has not yet approved the proposed name, Defence, Justice and Security Minister Ramadeluka Seretse maintains that he has assented to the police station being named after anybody (dead or alive).
In an interview with Sunday Standard at his tribal office in Palapye, Senior Chief Representative Kgosi Radithanka Ntebele explained that sometime last year residents of Palapye were called to a well attended kgotla meeting to discuss the name to be given to the new police station.
He said during the meeting, three names were proposed. The proposed names were the late Kgosi Tshekedi Khama, former area Member of Parliament for Moutlakgola Ngwako and Mmapuala which is the area where the police station is built.
Ntebele said they then informed Minister Seretse of the proposed names. The minister however in response to the proposed names explained that there was no government policy that a police station could be named after a person.
Following Seretse’s response according to Ntebele, they demanded to be shown the policy that barred them from according the new police station a person’s name.
The senior chief representative said the community unanimously resolved that the police station be named after the late Kgosi Tshekedi whom they regard as an icon deserving of respect in their village. They likened Khama to some great icons who have selflessly worked for this country.
To their surprise, government acted against their will and went ahead to name the new station Palapye Police Station. A board was further erected, inscribed with the name Palapye Police Station.
Upon discovering the inscription, Ntebele said the tribal administration asked the police in Palapye who failed to provide satisfactory answers.
Ntebele has threatened that “if government does not approve the name that was unanimously agreed upon by Palapye residents, morafe have no choice save to boycott using the new station”.
“This is a democratic state that allows majority rule and there is, therefore, no way that the minister can reject their proposed name that was agreed upon a legally constituted kgotla meeting.”
The chief representative stated that despite their objection, the minister has decided to ignore and deliberately refused to respond to their issue despite that it has been over a year since the construction of the station was completed.
“I know about the suggested name though I was not officially informed,” said Member of Parliament for Palapye, Moiseraele Goya.
He said he does not have any problem with the suggested name.
MP Goya said it will be very wrong if the public boycotts the new police station if the name they proposed is rejected.
Contacted for comment on the issue, Seretse confirmed that residents of Palapye had proposed that the new police station should be called Tshekedi Khama.
“Though I did not give them the green light, I told them that I will have to find time to find out whether there is any policy that backs up their suggestion before we can make a decision.”
He stated that as far as he can remember, there is only one police station that has been named after a person – Sejelo Police Station in Kanye.
In his view there is nothing wrong in the police station being named after a person or accorded the location name.
He wondered if it could be right for a police station in Morwa Village to be named in his (Ramadeluka’s) honour.
Seretse promised to answer the residents of Palapye in the near future.
“We share the same sentiments with our tribal leaders and elders that we want the station to be called Tshekedi Khama,” said some villagers.
They said Tshekedi Khama played a very important role in the history of Botswana as well as in Palapye as he built Moeng College.