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Govt throws out Dikgosi demands

Publishing Date : 20 January, 2020

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has thrown out of the window the piercing demands submitted by Dikgosi from the last Bogosi Pitso. Government says the demands by the traditional leaders cannot be entertained as they require a lot of resources.


The requests by Dikgosi were led by Chairman of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD) Kgosi Puso Gaborone, who bluntly told the then Assistant Minister Kgotla Autlwetse that they want a ministry that would specifically address issues of Bogosi and culture. The request was following a trail of others the traditional leaders asked for especially with respect to their powers. “Merero (consultations) should be under one roof; culture should be taken to where Bogosi is. I am advocating for one thing; Ministry of Bogosi and Traditional Affairs,” Kgosi Gaborone said at the Pitso.


Following that meeting, in which the government officials including Ministers gave Dikgosi confidence that their demands will be implemented, it is now appearing to be a far-fetched dream. “The establishment of the Ministry requires resources both manpower and budget,” Ministry’s Permanent Secretary (PS) Boipolelo Khumomatlhare said. He continued; “The prerogative for creation and abolition of offices, inclusive of ministries, rests solely on the President as per the constitution,” he said when asked about the implementation of the demands.


While Dikgosi are now left in limbo and chances of their demands being put in place slowly evaporating, the Ministry through the Department of Tribal Administration will carry out an assessment of tribal administration. This will be aimed at determining whether the department is feasible as it is or it will need to be upgraded to a Directorate position or to be a stand-alone ministry considering its magnitude.


“The study recommendations will assist on the way forward on the proposed matter. DPSM on the other hand is also looking into different mandates of Ministries with a view of rationalizing. The two exercises need to be completed before submissions can be made on the establishment of a Ministry,” Khumomatlhare responded to WeekendPost enquiry.


Late last year there was to be another Pitso in Francistown, which was cancelled last minute. It was at that meeting where the new Minister, Eric Molale was expected to share with Dikgosi how far the government is regarding their requests. The meeting is still in the pipeline and it is anticipated before April this year.


Chairman Kgosi Gaborone was not available to comment on these matters this week as his phone rang unanswered. However, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele had this to say; “We submitted our demands to the government and we expected to meet Minister Molale about them late last year but we could not as the meeting was postponed. So we are waiting to meet him so that he can give answers as to whether our requests will see the light of the day or what. We will take it from there.”


Another Dikgosi plea to the government was to scrap off some sections of Bogosi act. Among those is section 15, which is focused on withdrawal of recognition of Kgosi by a Minister. It reads in part: ‘the Minister may caution or reprimand the Kgosi; order the stoppage of increment of the salary of the Kgosi; suspend the Kgosi; if he or she considers it to be expedient and in the interest of peace, good order and good governance, depose such Kgosi or extend the suspension for a period not exceeding two years.’


Government on the other hand is diverging with Dikgosi on this one. “Whereas these sentiments have been expressed by Dikgosi in the present scheme of things, the sections are likely to be retained as they are there as a regulatory mechanism to ensure ethical conduct on the part of Dikgosi,” said the PS. It is however noted that Bogosi Act of 2008 is currently under review and consultations on the issues raised will be done with relevant stakeholders.  


The last Kgosi to be de-recognized was Kgosi Kgafela of Bakgatla in 2011. Kgosi Seepapitso IV in 1994 was once suspended and government withheld fifty percent of his salary as a Chief, these Dikgosi do not want to see this happen again hence vehement advocacy to scrap the sections calling for de-recognition. Dikgosi have also spoken in one voice that they need security equivalent to those given to judges as they do the same toil of solving disputes.


Private and personal secretaries must also be availed to the leaders to do their job diligently, they concurred. The government has also thrown these demands into the dustbin, as it is not sustainable. “The total number of Dikgosi in the country is 670 excluding Headman of Arbitration (Bo-Ralekgotla). The provision of security for Dikgosi may not be sustainable. It should also be noted that the current terms and conditions of Dikgosi employment has no provision for security. In case that Dikgosi might be in danger when presiding over cases, Botswana Police Service are present to render security,” Permanent Secretary Khumomatlhare explicitly said.


The government has also maintained that the terms and conditions of employment have no provision for personal secretaries. However, it is said there are Court Clerks in customary courts who provide secretarial service to Dikgosi. Dikgosi are also speaking in one voice to have state of the art Kgotla Offices and are also demanding same automobiles like the ones used by Ministers. The 2018 Pitso was aimed at drafting the five year strategy for Dikgosi, before then the last meeting was in 2015.

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