Monday, August 10, 2020

Trying to kill the messenger may open a can of worms

Some three or four weeks ago, I wrote an opinion article in this newspaper about the outcome of the audit exercise on the “Leobo Project” at the Mochudi kgotla. The story was headlined “Audit clears the Leobo Committee of wrong doing”. The audit had been carried out by the Kgatleng District Council on the request by the District Commissioner, Mompoloki Mochanang……. The district commissioner had been approach for help with audit skills by Deputy Kgosi Sekai Linchwe. 

The article has attracted a variety of responses. Some were channeled telephonically while others were through social media. Telephone messages were largely of people having enjoyed the article. To them it was a masterpiece. On the other hand, the article sent shock-waves to some people in Mochudi. They took to social media posting messages which were an expression of anger, frustration and disappointment. It was so because the article was a direct opposite of what they had expected the audit to unravel. Audit expressed the view that funds raised during the project circle were “reasonably utilized” despite inconsistencies here and there. Those who had been vying for the Leobo Committee’s blood suspected that audit had been doctored in favour of the committee. More than 30 people responded via social media. Admittedly, everybody is entitled to his or her views even if  the views so expressed are not factual. It has been proved scientifically that people never respond uniformly to mass media messages because the society is a heterogeneous and not homogeneous. Some of the comments appearing on social media were highly constructive. 

However, some of the comments are likely to open a can of worms. Joyce Phalaagae was concerned that the story may have left salient points in the audit report, something which would make it difficult for the reader to understand the whole content. She pleaded that another article be crafted to include issues which were left out in the first story. This is a brilliant suggestion. It is a well thought out idea.  Before I do that, let me admit that indeed certain aspects of the audit report were not included in the first story. This was because of space and nothing else. I will therefore, treat this article as Part II of the audit story but be warned not to be frustrated if it opens a can of worms.

The audit report is not long. It is a 15 page-report. In the report, there is what auditors call audit limitations. Here they say that owing to the limited nature of the tests carried out, time taken to engage audit and other inherent limitations of audit, “it must be borne in mind that audit does not vouch that all errors, anomalies and inefficiencies that may exist were detected and stated in this report”.  Another salient point which did not see the light of the day in the first story was about a visit to the kgotla area by the audit team. They state that during physical verification, audit found an incomplete structure of a foundation of Leobo la Kgotla. They sought “expert opinion” from council quantity surveyors to provide an estimate on the material used on the structure, especially bricks and cement. Therefore, “audit is content that materials used and unused materials relatively corresponded with building materials procured.”

Audit makes it very clear that some receipt books may still be in the hands of wards and magosana. For instance, Makgophana Ward was issued with three receipt books but only one was submitted for auditing. Fourty receipt books had been donated to the committee by Mochudi Bookshop. Twenty-nine of them were submitted for audit, some by the treasurer and some just came from other people while auditing was in progress. One of the anomalies was that those who were issued with receipt books did not sign for them and the very same receipt books were not recorded when they were returned to the treasurer.

Mystery surrounds collections from Mabalane Village. Audit only refers to that as not being included in the total raised through fund raising activities. This is where the opening of a can of worms starts. My investigations reveal that a delegation from Mabalane presented their collections to an officer in the office of Kgosikgolo when it was still operational. This has not been confirmed but it can be fully explained if Sekai and the ousted committee can meet and discuss the audit report. Similarly, some funds are said to have been raised at Grand Palm Hotel fund-raising dinner where the Kgatleng District Council is said to have bought one table for its employees. It is said the council later issued a cheque amounting to something like P6 000 to the organizers of the dinner. That cheque it is said, was delivered to an officer in the same office of Kgosikgolo by a prominent Mokgatla. This is another can of worm. Another can of worm derives from funds from Moruleng. The Leobo Committee requested funding for the project from that sister tribe. Moruleng has claimed that it dispatched the money to Mochudi but the donation did not reach the committee. If people are genuinely interested in knowing how the funds for that projects were utilized, they should avoid being selective by demanding answers on every aspect of the project. I am one of the first people to demand a report on how the funds for that project were used. I raised my voice during a meeting of the Malomakgomo Regiment when Sekai was calling on the group to make further contributions to cover the remaining part of the project. This was around 2009. I said we cannot continue to pour our money in bottomless pit. That meeting was minuted by Peter Moswetsi. 

Some social media correspondents also demanded to know why this Kwapeng Modikwe claimed to be more knowledgeable on bogosi matters, whether he was related to the royals of Mochudi and why the audit report was issued to him by the auditors and not to Kgosi Sekai. The answer is that one does not have to be a royal relative in order to know about royal matters. Professor Isaac Schapera was a Briton. He was an authority on Bakgatla and their bogosi. Today his books are used by the courts of law anywhere in the world whenever the need had arisen. Some of you may know Sandy Grant. He is from Scotland. He too is an authority on this tribe at least up to the period of Kgosi Linchwe II.

Whether I am related to the royals or not is neither here nor there. When I was doing standard one at Linchwe Primary School, having gone through sub-A and Sub-B, there was a teacher called Mmaseteba Phiri, the present Mrs. Hersey. She took us through the royal history of the Bakgatla of Mochudi and their bogosi. Again when I grew up, there was a man called Bogatsu Pilane whose father was Kgosi Linchwe I. He was the father to Kgosi Segale Linchwe. He used to take us through the history of Bakgatla at home under the shade of a roundavel. My own grandmother was called Mmakgotha Kgamanyane. She too used to take us through oral history of the royal family while we were seated by the fire place. Her father was Rakanyane Pilane, one of the sons of Kgosi Kgamanyane. I also learnt a lot from Kgosi Linchwe II. Besides that, I conducted research on the history of Bakgatla from the National archives and from a museum in London. This is why I appear to be more knowledgeable on matters of the history of the Bakgatla’s royal and the entire tribe. I strongly belief that I am more equipped on the issue than most of the royal uncles and their cronies.  Those who did not have the resources which were at my disposal, all are not lost as they can visit libraries to further their knowledge.

It appears Tumisang Moutswi did not read the story which is the subject matter. The story clearly stated that the audit report was LEAKED. The auditors did not share it with Kwapeng Modikwe. This reporter does not even know a single one of those auditors. It was leaked to him by a source who apparently obtained it from one or more members of the ousted Leobo Committee. Whether he obtained it Machiavellian way or not I have no idea. Kgosi Sekai was given a copy in October last year. The report was leaked last May, more than six months since Sekai and the ousted committee was given copies. The members of the ousted committee have been waiting with the hope that Sekai would take steps to invite them for a meeting to find the way forward. It would be helpful if those of you, who are closer to him, would impress upon him the need for this matter to be resolved one way or the other. Even if the audit report is rejected by those with the powers to incite the tribe, at least something would have been done. It is important for the committee to hand over the property in their possession to the people acceptable to the tribe.

Away from the audit report is this issue which cropped up recently at Morema Ward in Mochudi. It would be unwise to let it go unreported because it is of public interest. That issue is whether the people of that ward will introspect or not following disclosures that some four headman ship posts for their satellite wards “di jelwe ke nkale” remains to be seen. Morema is one of the five main wards in Mochudi. Its satellite wards are Huma, Phalane, Rasebetlela and Masupu. Posts at these wards have remained vacant for a considerable length of time. Speaking at the funeral of former headman, Mochele Rammala recently, Kgosi Segale Linchwe chastised the people of Morema especially the male folks for “fighting” over petty things instead of fighting for the filling of all vacant posts in their wards. The expression “di jelwe ke nkale” in that context means the posts have been frozen. Nkale is a worm known widely for destruction of crops in the ploughing fields. It is also sometime used to refer to the depreciation of the currency especially during recession times.

While Kgosi Segale did not want to dwell much on the issue, it is believed that he tried to fill those posts when he was still the acting deputy chief in the absence of Kgosi Sekai Linchwe but lacked the cooperation from the ward. At that time, the situation was tense in the village as the Mangana Regiment seemed to have taken control of the main kgotla demanding the return of Sekai to duty. Sekai had voluntarily retired because he had reached compulsory retirement age. He had been denied employment on contract.


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