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Home » News » Features » Dikgosi must enjoy equal status at Ntlo Ya Dikgosi – Study

Dikgosi must enjoy equal status at Ntlo Ya Dikgosi – Study

Publishing Date : 18 May, 2015

Author : FRANCINAH BAAITSE


The National Vision 2016 Council has put the mother tongue issue on its agenda and intends to facilitate development of an overarching national language policy  that would probably see the introduction of teaching in the vernacular in local schools and introduction of community radio stations.


In a mission to ensure that Botswana would be a tolerant nation by the year 2016 (next year), the Council has expressed its wish for the government to embrace other local languages in consonance with the ideals of the European Union (EU).


“Botswana is still to introduce teaching in mother tongue or language in the schools. This continues to be seen as some form of intolerance in certain quarters, especially among the minority groups who feel marginalised by government,” a draft report from the council on the matter has revealed.


The  report suggests that the council was mandated in a recent workshop with stakeholders to establish incentives for Batswana to speak at least one other local language over and above their mother tongue and therefore the introduction of teaching in local languages in schools would be a step in that direction.


Another mandate was for the Council to lobby for different Languages to be used in local publications.


“In the same way, there is still no room for ethnic languages in both public and private media and still no community radio stations to promote the different ethnic cultures and languages,” the report further reads in part.
The Council comes to a close next year September and by then it hopes to have achieved pillar number six which calls for a moral and tolerant nation.


The general view is that the current regime has been running an exclusive government which discriminates ethnic groups and their languages for close to five decades. The findings were not only made by the Council  but another independent body, the  Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) which says the unequal treatment of ethnicities is a creature of the country’s constitution.


According to BIDPA, the reforms to section 77, 78 and 79 of the constitution which were done at the begining of the Millenium did not go far enough. Suggestions were raised that Dikgosi from different ethnic groups must enjoy equal status at Ntlo ya Dikgosi and that other languages must be recognised and be introduced in elementary education.


Sections 77, 78 and 79 of the constitution recognised eight tribes as the major tribes and the rest were not given the similar status and were not even represented at Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of chiefs). The eight tribes included, Bakgatla, Bakwena, Bangwato, Bangwaketse, Balete, Barolong, Bahurutshe and Batawana.This arrangement was perceived as discriminatory and the constitution was amended during president Festus Mogae’s tenure to do away with the discriminative sections.


The population of Botswana is divided into the main ethnic groups of Tswana people (79%), Kalanga people (11%), and Basarwa (or Bushmen) (3%) and the the remaining 7% consist of other ethnic groups including some speaking the Kgalagadi language, and 1% of non-African people.


In its 2014 report tittled, Elections and the Management of Diversity in Botswana, BIDPA revealed that the general view in the country is that the country constitution is very discriminatory and Batswana in general are not happy with it.


Botswana is a constitutional democracy with the constitution having been adapted from great Britain at independence in 1966. The constitution is generally respected and regarded by all citizens as the supreme law of the country and the country continues to use strictly two official languages, Setswana and English.


On a global basis however the country is generally rated highly in terms of tolerance for diversity and acceptance of differences between people, their religion, language, political affiliation and ethnic background but both BIDPA and the Vision 2016 Council agrees that the issue of language remains and perhaps needs to be discussed further for the nation to reach a consensus.

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