Saturday, November 27, 2021

Seretse Khama formally proposed to minister as Bangwato regent

The grandson of Kgosi Tshekedi Khama and namesake of Botswana’s founding president is back in the running for a position that supervises the largest tribal administration unit in the country.

Sunday Standard learns that in line with the Bogosi Act, the Bangwato Tribal Authority in Serowe has submitted the name of Seretse Khama to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for approval as the next Regent. Seretse Khama is the grandson of Tshekedi and his own father, Leapetswe Khama. There is no indication of any hurdle between Seretse Khama and the coveted royal seat and when he is appointed, he will be following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who have also served in the same position.

The submission of the name marks an about-turn because similar process was started and aborted last year. The current regent, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, is of greatly advanced age and is working on a contract that ends next year. The current Bangwato kgosikgolo and former president, Lieutenant General Ian Khama, is in no hurry to sit at the Serowe kgotla and nothing suggests he will ever be. The latter has helped perpetuate the longest regency in Tswana history. In 1925, this regency will enter its 100th year.

While Seretse Khama’s every drop of blood is blue, his upcoming assignment is largely an outcome of political horse-trading. Ahead of the 2019 general election, he threw in his lot with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and planned to leverage a name that carries a lot of weight in Serowe to contest for the Serowe North parliamentary seat. That same seat was being eyed by a relative of his, Dikgakgamatso Ndelu Seretse. More commonly known as Ndelu, the latter is the son of Botswana’s third vice president, Lenyeletse Seretse, who, himself a member of the royal family, was married to Naledi, Sir Seretse’s sister. Having lost to Kgotla Autlwetse in the 2014 primary elections, Ndelu wanted a second bite at the cherry but this time not as a Botswana Democratic Party but independent candidate.

To prevent a situation where members of the Bangwato royal family would have vied for the same parliamentary seat, Seretse Khama was – with Gen Khama’s full endorsement – enticed away from politics with an offer of the Bangwato regency. Resultantly, Seretse quit politics and prepared to join the Bangwato tribal administration. However, he never take up post at the kgotla because the formal processes that would have enabled him to do so were never followed through. Kgamane never wrote a letter to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who, in turn, would have written a formal appointment letter.  Some of Seretse Khama’s relatives also dug up dirt on him and used it to block his ascendance. The dirt was in the form of information on his youthful indiscretions – which indiscretions he made clear he had outgrown and were no longer a factor in his adult life.

Amid this saga, a Rwandan newspaper reported that Seretse Khama’s cousin, Ewetse Khama, the son of Sekgoma Khama, who is Leapetswe’s younger brother, was quitting his job in Kigali to become Bangwato regent. This report, which Gen Khama himself refuted, turned out to be false and the process of elevating Seretse Khama has been restarted.

Meanwhile, Khama is said to have instructed Kgamane at a December 2020 meeting that should anything to him, his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama, who is Serowe West MP, should become Bangwato kgosikgolo. This meeting, which happened at the Serowe kgotla, was also (tellingly) attended by Kaedi, Tshekedi’s only son. It is almost certain that Kgosi Seretse Khama will serve as regent for both Kgosikgolo Tshekedi and Kgosikgolo Kaedi.

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