Old wounds were re-opened at Mochudi kgotla on Friday when a leader of Mangana regiment of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, Moagi Molebatsi castigated Government for disrespecting the tribe by denying them leadership of a recognised chief. Molebatsi took advantage of a Kgotla meeting where the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane, was briefing Bakgatla about a decision to accept the nomination of Kgosi Bana Sekai as deputy kgosi by the royal uncles. Tsogwane said after the Friday meeting and as soon as his name is submitted, his office will issue Sekai a new contract as stipulated in Bogosi Act. Clearly picked to deliver a specific message in song, Tloutsoga traditional choir had preceded the minister and sang two pieces, both about the exiled Kgosikgolo Kgafela II. In the first song – components of which were deliberately sung in hushed tones for effect – the choir showered Kgafela with adulations, saying he is as bright as a crown. More revealing was the second song which reminisced about Kgafela II's warnings at a time when he was involved in running battles with Government. They song goes: "Kgosikgolo o re boleletse gore ga gona tau kana sebata seka baang leroo la sone mo tseleng ee tsamaiwang ke kgosi...tsela ee tsamaiwang ke kgosi e thata". Earlier, before delivering a prayer at the start of the programme, the pastor set the tone for the meeting with a sermon calling on Bakgatla and Government to bury the hatchet and forgive mistakes and wrongs of the past.
No sooner had Tsogwane left the podium than Molebatsi was on stage expressing disappointment at the way Government is handling Bakgatla chieftainship issues. He said Government is taking a casual approach to bogosi issues as Bakgatla expected Tsogwane to confirm reinstatement of Sekai to the kgotla instead of once again seeking submission of a name. He said they have long made their position known on the issue, which was buttressed by Kgafela II during meetings in Moruleng with a delegation from Government. Molebatsi – whose Mangana regiment is holding fort in Mochudi since Kgafela II went into exile in South Africa in May 2012 – said they were expecting to welcome Sekai back into the kgotla on Friday. The matter has long been settled, he said. "We note that you have done your job, but we are unhappy. Bakgatla have been in turmoil for six years now without anybody coming to our rescue. We were hoping that as promised, after doing away with minor hurdles you will give Sekai an appointment letter, and deliver him here at the kgotla. We are not happy because we do not have a chief. Government should take us seriously. Which other tribe has been without a chief for six years? We are worried about this treatment. If things continue in the same trajectory we will lose hope in Government. We are Bakgatla and as Bakgatla we expect you to deliver on your promises," said Molebatsi, in an evidently agitated tone. According to Molebatsi, a tribe stands on three legs being morafe, kgosi, lefatshe (people, their chief and their land). He warned that without one of the components a tribe falls apart, saying "re morafe, rebopaganngwa ke kgosi ebile re na le lehatshe le re nnang mo go lone". Molebatsi cautioned that mismanagement of land could in future erupt into conflicts, which could plunge the country into civil unrest. He said the implementation of developments by Government should not be at the expense of Bakgatla, whose land is expropriated by the state and sold off to foreigners. Developments in Kgatleng should be done to benefit the tribe, he emphasised. Clearly unhappy with a barrage of criticism levelled at Government, Tsogwane was forced to return to the podium after every speaker to respond and clarify position. He refused to be drawn into discussing the Kgafela issue, saying the proper forum to lodge such grievances is the Attorney General's chambers. Kgafela II escaped to South Africa in May 2012 following charges of assault and legal battles with the government of Botswana. A warrant of arrest had been issued against him by Village Magistrate court after failing to appear in court.
Divisions in royal house
It became apparent that deep seated divisions were simmering in Bakgatla royal house when Molebatsi dismissed some tribesmen for claiming to be senior uncles. He said even the Friday meeting had been postponed many times because of detractors who are trying to block Sekai, claiming to make representation to Government as senior uncles. "You should understand that in our tribe we do not have a position called senior uncle, unless designated as such by Kgosikgolo. Royal uncles are recognised as a collective," he said. An elderly Ntsietala Sebonedi also confirmed the divisions within Bakgatla when he accused some tribesmen of feeding government officials the wrong information. Reflecting on the history of the dispute with Government, Ntsietala said he was part of a group that visited Kgafela after he went into exile in Moruleng, South Africa where some in the delegation told the chief that government has derecognised Sekai. "It is misleading to claim that government ever removed Sekai from office. Such removal was caused by the same group (lekoko la ga Tshweu) who after Moruleng sojourn later visited government (Office of the President) to indicate that they do not want Sekai because of reasons only known to them. That was the cause of his removal, but the tribe never said they do not want Sekai. Let's not blame government for what happened but rather exploit an opportunity still available until Sekai reaches the prescribed 80 years," he said. Sebonedi corroborated Molebatsi's position that Kgafela had long declared that he left the kgotla in the custody of Kgosi Sekai and Kgosi Segale. Kgafela is said to have also indicated that he would be happy if government would recognise Sekai and admit him to Ntlo ya Dikgosi."Kgafela repeated the same before a delegation led by Kgosi Malope of Bangwaketse, which also included Bakgatla headmen. Maaka, lorato di tsholetswe boammaaruri bo le bongwehela. Hare itlotla rele bana ba poo e ntsho re amogela leina la ga Sekai jaaka basimane ba kgosing gotwe ba le amogetse," he said. Sekai declined to discuss future plans as a member of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, saying he does not want to jump the gun because it has not yet been confirmed. It is only after reinstatement to position of deputy Kgosi that the tribe can apply to the Office of the President to have Sekai admitted to the House of Chiefs. He said for now he is concentrating on concluding the reinstatement process, after which he will resume duties at Mochudi kgotla as the deputy chief. "I am going to pick up where I left off, and put back plans and projects back on track," he said.