Even before Bakgatla’s Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela II current impasse with the Botswana government came to the fore, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has not been able to convincingly entrench itself in the Kgatleng constituencies as the most preferred party. History bails me out on this one! It should not be in dispute that the opposition has in recent times and in whatever format continued to lead in these constituencies with the BDP coming the second best. With the impasse firmly entrenched and with nothing tangible save for a few and in far in between pronouncements, it is safe to conclude that Kgosi Kgolo’s current circumstances will sway voters in Mochudi West and Mochudi East to vote for the BDP. I will be bold and unflinching to suggest that it is a given. Yes it could be argued that the numbers may not be as high and telling as they were in 2014 given the twists and turns in the unfolding body politic. But nothing substantial suggests these twists and turns will be good enough to change the status quo. I will, God willing, humble myself on this platform should a different outcome emerge.
Addressing a BDP congress in Mochudi last weekend, His Excellency the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi mentioned that he will do everything humanely possible to ensure that Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela II returns to Botswana from Moruleng. No time frame was given as has become synonymous with the President. He has made promises across the board with most, if not all of them, not honoured. The PEMANDU report promises to the greater public servants and the resuscitation of the Public Service Bargaining Council are some. So why would the larger Morafe who are traditionally and historically loyal to their Kgosi Kgolo as do other Merafe not be apprehensive about the President’s overtures one could rhetorically ask. It will be remembered that at the BDP Kang special congress in early April this year, the same promise was made on the Kgosi Kgolo. I will take no offence at somebody who is offended by the President addressing the Kgosi Kgolo’s matter at a political party event as opposed to addressing it at the Kgotla (a traditional meeting place where tribal issues are discussed) where the affected Morafe (tribes men and women) could raise issues they deem pertinent to their leader.
In this regard I am tempted to suggest, which I hereby do, that the President could have won the hearts and minds of Morafe by providing a compelling update which could possibly in turn result in some votes for him. But I am afraid to say that the President has turned the Kgosi Kgolo issue more into a political campaign tool with no compelling details to be believed than into a Morafe issue wherein he may have lost an opportunity to reap maximum benefits. Some people look at the President’s modus operandi of dealing with this matter as purely a BDP thing which excludes the larger interested Morafe who are not BDP members.
In essence, the President was only addressing members of his political party both in Mochudi and Kang who do not constitute all Bakgatla who have a vested interest in the circumstances their leader find himself in. A member of Morafe in a Kgotla set up could for example ask the President for an update since he announced his desire to return Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela II back home, a while ago. The update would entail what the President has done so far to reassure Bakgatla that indeed some process is fully in motion; how has the Kgosi Kgolo reacted to such process; what are the sticking points if any and so on. For me, the intention has long been pronounced and needs no repetition but progress report to the resolution of the impasse.
Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela II has made his position on the socio-political circumstances of Botswana very clear. Notably, he has pronounced that he wishes a complete overhaul of the Botswana Constitution because he feels it is overtaken by events. Government has not come out very clearly to give an undertaking that she intends to holistically overhaul such Constitution. Piece meal scenario is what I see. Whether the President agrees with him on this one is neither here nor there. That is his position and he has stood firm on it. Better still, the call on overhauling the Constitution has been advanced by other compatriots. But because the President’s desire to have him back is purely for political expediency than anything else as it would appear, one would think that the President would readily give in to his demands. Is this the case? Why did the President’s government to which he was, and still is an integral member, not decidedly pursue the matter the minute it emerged? Your guess is as good as mine.
If indeed the President is genuine in his quest to see Kgosi Kgolo back, I expect him to have prioritised the matter. At the time of pardoning Attorney Carlos Salbany as a prohibited immigrant early in his presidency, I expect the President to have immediately dealt with the Kgosi Kgolo’s matter given the political mileage he would derive from it which he desperately requires. If the argument would be that he didn’t have power and authority because he was not yet the President then, he held such power and authority from 1 April 2018. The thinking in the BDP could be that since Kgosi Kgolo’s younger brother Morena Mmusi Kgafela has joined it as its parliamentary candidate in Mochudi West, he could change its fortunes in that constituency hence may be the apparent half-hearted efforts to engage his brother. Some are arguing that he won’t make it because he has joined a party they reason, that has put his brother in his current position. There could be some validity in this view because Morena Mmusi Kgafela’s royal influence in Kgatleng failed to secure the BDP victory in the by election in Mochudi East in April 2018 after the death of Hon Isaac Davids. Since this impasse emerged, the opposition has used it to its fullest for political expediency and nothing suggests it won’t to do so in this year’s elections.
Whereas I personally feel that Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela II’s circumstances should not be used as some political campaign tool due to their sensisitivities, I accept that politicians will by and large jump at any opportunity that could possibly give them some political mileage. Naturally, one expects political parties now that they have unveiled their manifestos, to campaign on issues raised therein. That said, it is my considered view that the BDP has lost a golden opportunity to reap some benefits from Kgosi Kgolo’s circumstances now that it uses it as a campaign issue.
From where I stand, nothing suggests the President will prevail by using Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela II as a campaign issue for reasons provided above and I duly dismiss his pronouncements made both in Kang and Mochudi respectively. And particularly that they were made at his political party events as opposed to the Kgotla where he would have been asked difficult but pertinent questions. In my view therefore, the President has not convincingly taken the broader Morafe into his confidence to show his genuineness in getting him back but his party members. Part of Morafe who are not BDP members may very well derail the President’s mission partly because they may feel he has disrespected them by not directly engaging them at an appropriate platform on a matter they have vested and legitimate interest. I am prepared as always to be persuaded otherwise. Judge for Yourself!