Knives are out for the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Eric Molale, whom some unhappy dikgosi want dropped from cabinet by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi (NYD) said they are extremely irritated by how the local government ministry under Molale’s watch is reluctant to act on welfare issues that affect the Dikgosi despite numerous complaints. During the Ntlo ya Dikgosi meeting this week, some of furious dikgosi confronted the Assistant Minister of Local Government, Kgotla Autlwetse, over unpaid stipends which are provided for by law. Numerous dikgosi expressed concern that ever since they were elected to the house they have never been paid sitting allowances for attending full council meetings.
Section 13 (3) of the Local Government Act of 2012 provides that all members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi and the Dikgosi who attend full council and sub council meetings at districts be paid allowances. Opening a can of worms, Kgosi Mbao Kahiko III of Ghanzi West Region had asked the minister if he is aware that they are not paid in accordance with Section 13 (3) of the Local Government Act.
Responding to the question, Autlwetse said indeed Section 13 (3) of the Local Government Act of 2012 gives him the authority as minister to appoint Kgosi as ex-officio member of full council. “There has been delay in appointing Dikgosi to be members of the full council. We are aware that this delay is causing inconvenience but it will be sorted out. Once appointed, they are all entitled to a sitting allowance," said Autlwetse who hauled through a baptism of fire.
In an interview Kgosi Kahiko III said it is clear that the ministry leadership is sleeping on the job. The outspoken Kgosi Kahiko III buttressed their disappointment as dikgosi regarding the lack of seriousness by the local government ministry which continues to take them for granted. “The Local Act is clear that we should be paid sitting allowance for sessions. The minister is duty bound to appoint Dikgosi and we should not beg for that appointment. We are not happy with how things are running at the moment. Minister must ensure all our stipends are paid," he said.
Also, he said during council sessions Dikgosi cannot advise councils because they don’t have any authority to do so as they are not appointed officially by the minister. “We are rendered powerless by lack of minister’s desire to give us official endorsements. For now Dikgosi are just toothless because we are just seating at the back with no authority,’’ he complained.
Dikgosi also voiced concern that promises made by the government during Bogosi Pitso in 2018 were thrown out with government citing lack of funds. “We raised a number of issues to the minister. What is surprising is that Autlwetse was still the Assistant Minister of this ministry at the time. He graced the Bogosi Pitso and he then made key promises to us but today he pretends he doesn’t know our concerns,” said one furious Kgosi too.
Some of the demands that Dikgosi made during the Bogosi Pitso was that government should ponder to create Ministry of Bogosi and Traditional Affairs but government said it is expensive.
Chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi Kgosi Puso Gaborone at a time said the specific ministry for Dikgosi would be helpful in talking to number of welfare issues relating to neglected Bogosi institution. Meanwhile, Kgosi David Toto II of Kgalagadi South region also expressed a concern with lack of electrification of some customary courts as lack of street lights lead to the escalating crime too.
Kgosi Toto II said it was now becoming a norm for the government to say there is no budgets whenever Dikgosi make the demands for developments in their districts calling for that to stop.
Autlwetse responding to Kgosi Toto II said his ministry has proposed a budget of P12 million in the financial year 2021\22 to electrify customary courts without electricity across the country.
University of Botswana (UB) political analyst Mokaloba Mokaloba said the dissatisfaction by Dikgosi to Molale’s ministry shows that there are issues within ministry that need answers. He said Molale is one of the ministers who is under serious trouble hence he need to pull up his socks and demonstrate leadership qualities that he served in public service for quite some time.
“First it was the issue of Covid-19 food basket which was mismanaged and calls were made by Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane for him to resign. The concerns of the Dikgosi also speaks. Molale should do better because he is currently failing his portfolio,” said Mokaloba.
Efforts to reach Molale proved futile as his mobile phone was off at the time of going to print.