Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The battle for control of Moruleng rages on

During the past week, the biggest story for Mochudi and Moruleng, was the de-recognition of Kgosi Nyalala Pilane and the subsequent recognition of Ramono Linchwe as interim leader for Moruleng by the Premier of the North West Province in South Africa, Professor Job Mokgoro. Several media houses in Botswana and South Africa including social media carried the story. The interesting thing in the story is the appointment of Ramono Linchwe as acting kgosi for six months. It is interesting because it was unexpected. People had been expecting a certain Rampho Pheto to be the interim leader and they are  quietly angry that he has not be considered for the post.

        Personally I strongly believe that Kgosi Kgafela II made a good choice. Ramono Linchwe is the most senior among all the royal uncles currently residing in Moruleng. Kgafela wisely advised himself. I endorse his choice. Besides his royalty, Ramono Linchwe has proved himself a strong and fearless royal uncle. Had Kgafela chosen Rampho Pheto, I would have counted myself among the disappointed ones. Reasons being that Rampho Pheto is at the bottom of the royal hierarchy of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela if indeed he is one of them. He is from Monneng Ward and therefore cannot count himself among the royal uncles. Appointing him as the traditional ruler of the Moruleng people would have been like a game of diketo. Kgosi Linchwe II said in a paper on chieftainship in the 21st century, “people continue to want pure chieftainship and condone its adulteration only as expediency” adding that, “the people continue to want the next in line of the succession”.  His words are still relevant today as they were then. Ramono Linchwe is pure royal blood and he is next in line in Moruleng.

As soon as the news of Ramono Linchwe’s appointment reached Botswana, a caller asked me what it meant. I promptly replied that I thought Kgafela was testing waters. He knew that opposition to Rampho Pheto would be huge if he had appointed him. He therefore decided to gamble with Ramono Linchwe thinking that since he was the most senior among the uncles present and that his father, Thari Pilane was one of those who ruled Moruleng people at some stage, he would be acceptable to many. Depending on the acceptability of Ramono Linchwe by the people, Kgafela would then step in without strong opposition after six months. Unless there is a change of heart due to the prevailing circumstances, the people of Moruleng have long wanted one of the descendants of former leader, Thari Pilane. He did not rule the people tyrannically. In 1994, I attended a kgotla meeting at Moruleng during which the name of his son, Phulane Pilane cropped up. He was being mentioned as the rightful candidate to succeed Tidimane Pilane. At that time, Phulane was the deputy kgosi in Mochudi. Ramono Linchwe is Phulane’s younger brother. Ahead of him in the house of Thari Pilane is Phulane’s son, Thari Gadinkame Linchwe followed by Letshele Linchwe. 

I gave this response aware that there is a section of Bakgatla in Mochudi who would have had something to celebrate if Rampho Pheto had been the one appointed to lead the Moruleng people. He has his own supporters in Mochudi. I can say with certainty that they are not happy with the elevation of Ramono Linchwe. They will not make noise because they do not want to cross swards with Kgosi Kgafela. I am referring to a group aligned to Deputy Kgosi Sekai Linchwe. It is a faction of Mangana regiment. This is the faction which is also known infamously as “Matlhoakgosi” because one of their leaders had been going around Mochudi in the recent years claiming that he was Kgosi Kgafela II’s eyes in Botswana. This is the group which is credited for having fought so hard for the re-employment of Sekai by the Government as deputy kgosi. This is the group which tried to make Mochudi ungovernable during Sekai’s absence from the kgotla after he had retired because he had reached compulsory retirement age of 60. They did not want the leadership of Kgosi Segale Linchwe.

This is the group which dispatched a delegation to Moruleng demanding that by virtue of being the deputy kgosi, Sekai should always be seated next to Kgosi Kgafela during kgotla meetings instead of Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe or Ramono Linchwe despite him being too junior in the royal hierarchy. This is the group which demanded that Ramono Linchwe stop assigning former radio personality, Mogatusi Kwapa master of ceremony during kgotla meetings. The problem with Kgosi Mothibe and Kwapa was that they were not aligned to the Mangana faction. Ramono Linchwe and Sekai Linchwe had not been in talking terms for a considerable length of time.  In fact, Sekai is not in talking terms with all the seven royal uncles. He depends on Mangana faction and two headmen who are hoping nepotism will one day get them promotion to senior positions at the main kgotla. They are his strength.

So far, one group which calls itself “Dithsipi tsa Kgatleng” has openly declared its support for the removal of Kgosi Nnyalala “as it was long overdue” but has declined to endorse Ramono Linchwe. The group says “many are left flabbergasted “by the appointment of Ramono Linchwe. Writing on Face book, the group said, “many had expected a different name”, adding “we are yet to witness a lot of things as we embark on a new epoch.”  This group is not known to many in Mochudi but it appears that its views on Moruleng chieftainship coincide with those of Mangana.The difference between it and Mangana is the tone of its approach. It looks like it is manned by very mature people judging from the tone of its message. Mangana faction is themselves a radical bunch of people who do not care about allowing sanity to prevail.

Also interesting is an ambiguous story in a local newspaper. It begins, “Bakgatla Royal Family in Botswana has welcomed a decision by the South African Provincial government to oust Nyalala Pilane as the senior traditional leader’. There is no attribution but at the end of it, the story quotes Kgosi Sekai as saying that “due to the covid-19 protocols, the royal family will have to find ways of communicating this decision with the Bakgatla tribe”. It is not clear if the opening sentence of the story was said by Kgosi Sekai. I have no problem with the last paragraph as it is attributed in clear terms to Sekai and it may be referring to Kgosi Kgafela sending word to Mochudi about the latest development. If it were not due to covid-19 protocols, the Mochudi people would soon be heading to Moruleng to formally be briefed.

Based on what I know regarding the politics of bogosi issues of Mochudi, no one associated with the faction of Mangana can claim to be the spokesperson of the royal family in Botswana. By the royal family in Botswana I am referring to the house of Kgosi Linchwe which includes the Queen Mother, MmaSeingwang, Seingwaeng herself, Bakgatle Kgafela and Mmusi Kgafela. This royal family has been the subject of abuse by the Mangana who used every opportunity during kgotla meetings to ridicule them. Therefore, it is unthinkable that any associate of the Mangana faction can claim to speak on behalf of the internal royal family on any issue unless he or she abandons that group or if the group disbands or retracts it’s known anti MmaSeingwaeng and children sentiments. That faction’s known position is that it does not recognize Kgosi Linchwe II’s house as a royal house of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela because the baton has since shifted to that of Kgafela II. While it is not in dispute that the baton passed on to Kgafela in 2008, to suggest that Kgosi Linchwe’s house is not a royal one is an insult. Again, the manner in which the Managana conveyed that reminder to the house of Kgosi Linchwe II lacked the respect. It was aimed at trying to ridicule Kgafela’s younger brothers, their sister as well as Kgafela’s mother. Unfortunately, no body intervened when that Mangana faction was on the rampage belittling the Queen Mother. Words such as “o ithaya a re ke selo mang  (what does she think she is) were directed at her. It was also claimed that both Bakgatle and Mmusi should stop involving themselves on bogosi matters as they “are no longer the royal family” since Kgafela II’s installation. It was also wrongly claimed that culture did not allow them participation on issues of bogosi.     

With regard to Nyalala Pilane’s withdrawal of certificate of recognition, one would think that perhaps Job Mokgoro should have waited until the last word of the court in the Moruleng saga had been spoken.  I hold this view because I am told there was a pending case before the court in which Nyalala Pilane and some royal people in Moruleng are challenging the Maluleke commission report. Now Nyalala Pilane and Bakgatla ba Kgafela Royal Family in Moruleng have filed another case challenging the premier’s latest decision in the High Court of South Africa in Mahikeng. The case is registered as case no. 1/20. Apart from the premier, other respondents are Ramono Linchwe and North West Provincial House of Traditional Leaders.


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