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Mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe, RraAtsile

Recently at a fully-packed Kgotla meeting in Serowe, one man identified as Wame Rapitsenyane, an agriculture teacher from Lotsane Senior Secondary School (thanks to President Mokgweetsi Masisi we know that much about the man) quizzed the President about alleged tensions between him and the former president Ian Khama.

Rapitsenyane also quizzed Masisi where he was when Khama destroyed the country and whether it was true that Masisi and Khama do not see eye to eye. Simple questions in our opinion.

To show that indeed a lot of people were interested in finding out from the President what was really going on between him and Khama, Rapitsenyane’s question was met with ululations and whistling from majority of those who attended Masisi’s maiden kgotla meeting in the Gammangwato capital since his inauguration as the President of Botswana. However when Masisi got the opportunity to respond to Rapitsenyane, he ridiculed him and moved to shame and threaten that his superiors would take action against him.

The insinuation from the answer is that teachers or public servants are not to attend Kgotla meetings during working hours. Does the President ever hold Kgotla meetings outside working hours? Are teachers not citizens who also have equal rights to voice their concerns like any other Motswana? Yes education is very important and we all want to see our students perform better. The President should not have said what he said about Rapitsenyane. Rather he could have responded to the issues he raised or chosen not to comment at all.

We have all been taught that mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe. This literally means that in

any gathering, all should be given a chance to air their opinions freely. Another Setswana adage says Kgosi thotobolo e olela matlakala. The President should not anyhow retaliate when he does not like what a Motswana has said.

We urge the President to be able to stomach any criticism and respond to questions like a First Citizen. With such responses, it would most likely be difficult for Batswana to interact with him and other leaders in community gatherings, as they would fear being victimised. Even if Rapitsenyane had a case against him currently, it will seem like the President had already sealed his fate.

Actually, it is surprising that Masisi himself has said before that mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe. He should be leading by example. As much as he found it fit to axe the permanent secretary in the Basic Education Ministry Dr Collie Monkge for the utterances he made when addressing teachers, he must also exercise restraint. The President is an eloquent speaker and can surely have addressed the issue better. Thanks to the little known Rapitsenyane, we now know the other side of Masisi- an impatient, arrogant and intolerant man.


Today’s thought 

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” 

– S.G. Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire




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