Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Traditional leaders may get more clout

Government has finally succumbed to pressure mounted by traditional tribal leaders to be given more power in high level decision making.

However, Cabinet is yet to discuss which powers should be given to traditional leaders in few weeks to come.

 The Department of Tribal Administration under the Ministry of Local Government had being instructed and given a month by the Office of the President to engage traditional leaders vigorously on what powers they wish to be given by the state that will harmonise the tension that has long been existing between them and government since after independence.

Information passed to this publication suggests that traditional leaders were last month grouped in to three clusters and afforded the opportunity articulate at length the exact powers they wanted from government.

It is understood that traditional leaders have listed a good number of powers that they want to exercise that include the right to override land board decisions.

The traditional leaders also want to be given powers that are equivalent to those of permanent secretaries and Cabinet Ministers in decision making on particular issues that affect their respective tribes.

The director of Tribal Administration Department, Tumelo Seboko, has confirmed to this publication that chiefs are likely to be given more power.

He explained that last month his department was on a vigorous consultative drive to engage all the traditional leaders on the issues they raised.

Seboko said all the chiefs across the country were invited to the call which they attended in large numbers under one roof and discussed at length about their grievances and powers they have proposed.

He stated that the consultative drive had being completed last week and the ministry was preparing a report to be forwarded to President Ian Khama for approval.

“I cannot guarantee which proposals will government adopt or reject” he said.

“At this juncture I am not at liberty to disclose what was discussed with the traditional leaders as the meetings were under close doors,” he added.

He said that it was of paramount importance that chiefs should move with modern times and provide quality service to their tribes.

When contacted for comment, Kgosi Thabo Masunga who tabled the motion before Ntlo ya Dikgosi said: “It is unfortunate that I cannot discuss this matter before Cabinet has taken a decision on what powers we should be given”.

Meanwhile, some tribesmen who requested anonymity said “it is surprising that finally government has decided to listen to us after a very long time”.

They claimed that government may want to use them somehow to gain political mileage which they say they will guard against.

“It should be clear that we want to be recognised in decision making for this country,” they said.

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