Gov’t must rectify recognition of Khama as Kgosi

The recent revelations surrounding the recognition of Ian Khama as Bagammangwato Kgosi have ignited a debate that strikes at the heart of Botswana’s traditional leadership and legal processes.

While it is widely acknowledged that Khama holds the title of Kgosi, the government’s failure to properly gazette his recognition has raised serious concerns about adherence to legal procedures and the credibility of traditional leadership. (See a story elsewhere in this newspaper.) Recent court documents by the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse, shed light on the intricacies of Khama’s recognition process. Autlwetse’s assertions challenge the legitimacy of Khama’s leadership, citing procedural discrepancies in the gazetting process. According to Autlwetse, Khama’s recognition as Kgosi was not completed in accordance with the necessary legal steps. Despite the traditional ceremony at the Kgotla where Khama was installed as Kgosi, no gazette confirming his recognition has been found in the archives. Without proper gazetting, Autlwetse argues Khama lacks the legal capacity to designate a Motshwarelela Bogosi.

Khama, however, maintains that he was duly recognised as Kgosi by the then President of Botswana, the late Sir Seretse Khama in 1979. He alleges that Autlwetse’s refusal to appoint Seretse Peter Khama as Motshwarelela Bogosi is motivated by political grudges, stemming from Autlwetse’s defeat in the 2019 General Election. This dispute does not only highlights the complexities of traditional leadership, but it equally exposes the intersection of tradition, law, and politics in Botswana’s governance. At its core, this issue is about the integrity of Botswana’s institutions and the rule of law. In light of these revelations, the government must take decisive action to rectify the situation. It is incumbent upon the authorities to ensure that the rightful recognition of Khama as Kgosi is properly documented and acknowledged. The failure to do so not only undermines the credibility of traditional leadership but also erodes public trust in the government’s commitment to upholding the rule of law. The government’s response to this matter will be closely scrutinised by the public and will have far-reaching implications for the future of traditional leadership in the country. Therefore, it is imperative that the government acts swiftly and transparently to address this issue.

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