Over the weekend, President Khama was shown on national television walking around some of the Kgatleng villages. Up until then, Kgatleng was almost a no go zone for the president.
More than the blankets he doled to the poor, what caught many people’s attention was the message of reconciliation that President Khama preached. Relations between Government and Bakgatla had come to a situation where many thought it had become a crisis.
We want to point out that the impasse between Government and Kgatleng royals has been badly handled ÔÇô by both the royals in that district as well as the government.
On the one hand were Kgatleng royals, led by Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela Kgafela and his uncle Bana Sekai. More often the duo behaved as though they were a people sponsoring a secessionist movement. No wonder some detractors labeled them leaders of a separatist rebellion.
Attempts by various emissaries dispatched to Kgosi and his uncle to tone down and give peace a chance were dismissed out of hand.
Every time there were attempts at peace talks, hostilities seemed to escalate out of hand, whipped and stoked by emotive language by many of their tribal followers.
On the other hand there was the government, led by Vice president Mompati Merafhe; an experienced and enthusiastic fighter who would cross streets just to pick a fight. The Vice President made all attempts at reconciliation worthless.
It was a match made in hell. The outcome was predictably an endless war talk that left the villagers squeezed in the middle as they became fodder of a sparring match between two very powerful institutions that vied for their loyalty.
In the end it was the ordinary folks that suffered most.
As was to be expected ordinary Bakgatla sided with their royals, who they looked at as victims of rampaging Gaborone based politicians. And more often they were, even as at time they also came across as willing amateur boxers who were all too happy to punch above their weights.
President Ian Khama did nothing to call for calm, save to wander to faraway places to address a Bakgatla issue at districts where it was of little relevance.
Our view has always been than that the matter could not be resolved as long as egos were allowed to play in public.
The problem is we have a government that would never want to concede a wrong as a way of starting anew or moving on. And this showed so clearly in the Kgatleng feud.
We welcome President Khama’s personal involvement in resolving the dispute, especially an assurance he made that he regarded Kgosi Kgafela as a younger brother.
More importantly we welcome the olive branch from the president when he reminded Bakgatla that it was him who draped Kgafela with a leopard skin during the latter’s coronation.
That is a sign of the maturity we have long called for from government.
It has however not escaped our attention that on the side of Morafe, the man who mattered most was absent.
We hope Kgosi Kgafela was absent because he was attending to other pressing issues of his people, and not because he did not welcome Khama’s initiative to establish a ceasefire.
After the president set the ball rolling we encourage the two parties to meet behind closed doors for a more honest exchange of views.
We do not expect the differences between government and Bakgatla to be resolved in public.
Either party has valid concerns that they have to communicate to the other as a way of mapping t6he way forward.
The president is not short of advisors, just as Kgosi Kgafela has his uncles and dikgosana to draw from for counsel at a meeting we are proposing for the3 two parties.
Developments in Kgatleng have no doubt suffered from the standoff.
And it is now in everyone’s interest that a lasting solution is found.
We hope sanity has come back to both Government and Kgatleng; at long last.