Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sekai faces a myriad of challenges

By all account, Deputy Chief, Sekai Linchwe is the busiest public servant in the Kgatleng District these days but, of course all for the wrong reasons. He seems to have opened wars on many fronts and it is increasingly becoming difficult for him to deal with them at once. Just last week on October 9th, he was at Rasesa, a small village separated from Mochudi by the railway line. He had gone there to introduce the new headman of record. However, he was given a baptism of fire by the village’s Kgosana Letshwenyo Rasesa who was not happy with his style of leadership. The new headman of record, Kagiso Buisanyang is said to have been appointed by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale.

It seems throughout the process leading to the appointment, Letshwenyo was kept in the dark until on October 9th when Sekai delivered the letter of appointment to him with instructions that he would return to that village two days later to introduce Buisanyang. It was on Friday. Letshwenyo was annoyed. Why Sekai chose to deliver the letter personally instead of sending a driver to do that is interesting. One can easily assume that because he knew it was controversial and was proud of it, he wanted to have firsthand knowledge of the headman’s body language upon reading the letter. Otherwise there is no reasonable explanation as to why he had to play the role of a messenger. The weekend gave Letshwenyo ample time to come to terms with the event and rehearse his response. He braced himself for a showdown with Sekai. The two are not known enemies but Letshwenyo does not belong to Sekai’s clique. Every headman who did not show his support for Sekai during the bad days when Sekai was jobless remains vulnerable.

On the appointed date, Sekai and Buisanyang arrived at the kgotla to a disappointing reception. The disappointment is captured well by the Botswana Guardian newspaper of October 16th under the headline, “Rasesa kgosana openly defies Kgosi Sekai, and rejects minister’s appointee”. Reporters had been camping at the kgotla for hours waiting for drama to unfold. When it finally unfolded at about noon time, they were   right on the spot at the right time.   That is exactly what happened. Letshwenyo ridiculed Sekai in full view of members of the public who watched from a distance. Giving an eye-witness account, the newspaper reported that Kgosana Letshwenyo rebuffed Sekai’s overtures and told him to his face that he would not entertain or receive the newly appointed Buisanyang in his offices as that would imply acceptance.

It is said that when Letshwenyo was done with Sekai, he left him at the gates of the offices with a strong warning that Sekai should dare enter the kgotla which he defines as the property of the community. He said Sekai was free to enter offices which he defined as government property. No matter the wrongs that characterize Sekai’s style of management, Kgosana Letshwenyo’s outburst was a clear case of insubordination. 

For his part, Sekai seemed to pass the buck to Molale upon being interviewed. He is said to have said that he was merely an envoy of Minister Molale and that it was Molale who appointed Buisanyang using powers vested upon him by the Bogosi Act. Come on guys! Would Molale appoint Buisanyang without somebody having submitted his name?  Would somebody else other than Sekai, recommend the candidature of Buisanyang without Sekai’s knowledge? Come on guys! Would Sekai embrace the appointment of Buisanyang if it had come to him like a bolt from the blue? Come on guys! Everybody I talked to agree that Letshwenyo may be guilty of insubordination. However, they have justification for it. They don’t subscribe to the notion that two wrongs do not make a right. They say Sekai belongs to a group of people who do not deserve respect from his juniors because he has a long history of disrespecting the country’s authorities. A front page story in the Botswana Gazette newspaper of 30th November 2011 seems to support this claim. Its screaming headline reads, “Merafhe is a liar-Sekai”. Merafhe was the country’s vice president and every public officer irrespective of his or her political inclination was bound to respect him. Again, Merafhe was Sekai’s father’s age mate and therefore the spirit of botho should have guided Sekai to select his words properly. The case of Athaliah Molokomme who was the attorney-general is another example which puts Sekai’s character into scrutiny. Molokomme had gone to Mochudi in the company of Ministers Peter Siele and Lebonaamang Mokalake to address a kgotla meeting in 2011on issues of law. She was prevented by Sekai from doing so under the pretext that allowing her to speak last after Kgosi Kgafela II had spoken would be a bridge of protocol. The post of attorney-general is one of the most senior in this country. The attorney-general is the custodian of the Constitution. The holder is number five in the country’s order of precedence. There must be something wrong with any civil servant who subjects the holder to public ridicule. While Kgosana Letshwenyo may be guilty of insubordination, in a way, he was giving Sekai the taste of his own medicine.

The appointment of Buisanyang as headman of record is definitely a succession plan if one takes into account the dispute that has been going on in the village over its leadership. Two or three factions have been quarreling about the leadership for more than a decade even though the Rasesas had been the rulers for close to a century or so. The dispute was adjudicated by Kgosi Kgafela following his installation. He concluded in favour of the Buisanyangs. Instead of the Kgosana Letshwenyo challenging the decision in court, he rested on his laurel. But it is not too late. 

Sekai seems to be washing his hands off when he says it was the Minister who appointed Buisanyang and that he (Sekai) was merely an envoy. This is ridiculous, nonsense and stupid. The Bogosi Act is explicit in the appointment of kgosi, kgosana or moemela kgosi. The Minister does not designate. That is the function of the tribe assembled at the kgotla. A kgosi may after consultation with the people of the area at a kgotla in the customary manner and with the approval of the Minister, recognize any person designated by his tribe as kgosana in respect of the area of his tribal territory or tribal area. In this particular case, it is either Sekai consulted with the people of Rasesa at a kgotla for them to designate or there has never been such consultative legal requirement. There is no path for him to escape. So Kgosi Sekai should own-up and stop passing the buck to Molale.  One day, the people of Dikwididi Village and Morema Ward in Mochudi will resolve to restore their headman ship positions to the rightful owners since their current leaders have since been acting in those positions. Sekai’s approaches will closely be watched because the move will adversely affect members of his clique.

Another war front is at Oliphant’s Drift where Sekai intends to impose a kgosana on the community without giving them space to look for one amongst themselves and in Mochudi where he plans to promote his supporter without taking into consideration merit. These are people known to have been on Sekai’s side at the time he was jobless because government had refused to employ him on contract. They were not only on his side. They were vocal about it demanding that he be employed.

It is good that the royal uncles comprising Kgosi Mothibe, Kgosi Segale and Morena Letshele are challenging Sekai’s attempts. They have demanded a meeting with him. In the meantime, they have appealed to government to ignore any recommendations concerning the two posts until further notice. Appointments for a meeting refuse to materialize. The first meeting had been set for October 7 but failed because Kgosi Segale was unwell. It was set for October 14 and again it failed because it was Sekai who could not make it. There was a mention of the meeting being set for October 27. Although the date had not been confirmed it was clear it was not suitable because Kgosi Mothibe had been lined up to deliver appeal judgments in the Ghanzi area for the whole week. The roll of the Customary Court of Appeal supersedes that of the customary court.

Also still hanging is the appointment of the Kgosing Ward or Rakagamanyana Ward headman to fill the vacancy that was created last year by the death of Kgosi Mokgosi Pilane. Initially, Sekai wanted to highjack the issue by inviting ward male members for a meeting to discuss the vacancy. The meeting aborted because of various reasons. There were those members who felt they were too senior to be called for a meeting by Sekai and there those who felt they would not entertain gender discrimination in modern day Botswana because Sekai had deliberately excluded their female counterparts. Through their representatives, the community at this ward succeeded in persuading Sekai to stay out of it because they were capable of handling it themselves. But Sekai did not simply give up. He issued instructions on who should qualify for the position. He is not concerned about one’s abilities for as long as the individual has a regiment, is married and does not drink. Surely all these requirements are rubbish when it comes to awarding of employment positions in government. Government has set standards for securing employment in the public service. These standards should apply to all those employed under the Bogosi Act as well. There should be no room for favoritism of the “blue blood” at the expense of the “red blood”. This is a serious loophole which should be closed up immediately. Educational qualification should be the guiding factor. 

The Department of Tribal Administration has been sitting on a letter of complaint from Kgosi Segale about his deteriorating working relationship with Sekai since January This must be addressed and resolved one way or the other. It is a time bomb. Sekai has sidelined Segale for a long time opting to work with the most junior staff members of the judiciary. He prefers Headman Time Pilane, Joel Mpete and Ivor Kgamanyane who are all Segale’s subordinates. This must be investigated thoroughly and appropriate action taken in the interest of the public service. Some headmen have tried their best to call for sanity to prevail but nothing has been achieved.

In yet another case, Sekai is being threatened with legal action by a local family following the canalization of tombstones of their relatives. Molefe Sedumedi Pheto and Ditshane Pheto’s tomb stones were erected behind the walls of the kraal at the Mochudi kgotla sometime last year. They were considered an eyesore by some headmen and groups of regiment men. Around the first week of last February, the tombstones were demolished and relatives are holding Sekai responsible. They argue that, he should have secured a court order. The destruction of those tombstones bears all the hallmarks of the destruction of the Mascom tower.

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