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When The Motshelo Treasurer Is On Form

As December rolls in on those wheels of inevitability most self-respecting citizens of this country will be rubbing their hands in glee in anticipation of returns from a Motshelo club.

For those who don’t know what this is, it is a traditional bank where you pool your resources together and try to make them grow outside NBFIRA laws. In fact there doesn’t seem to be any laws of the land that govern these clubs save for the ones that are cooked up in January by members. The Attorney General doesn’t even know how to spell Motshelo and frankly I doubt if he cares.

Motshelo takes several different forms. You could invest a P100 a month and counting chickens you hope to get at least P1200 (it is 12 months right) and the interest accrued from borrowings. You could decide to pool money together to bulk buy groceries that you strangely pray they last for the whole year-something which has not happened in any type of Motshelo from Mamuno to Ramokgwebana. You could save money and then buy toiletry for members. That too is expected to last a year until the next round. People in Motshelo clubs only know to work in cycles of 12 months. Just like governments!

Rich people are usually petrified to be a part of such clubs because it somehow drops their stock. I mean how do you wriggle out of a whisky-swigging session from a franchise operation in CBD to go attend a Motshelo meeting in Tsolamosese? Your fellow entrepreneurs will have your ego for breakfast! So there is a silent rule to not be part of the Motshelo brigade which to them is essentially a gathering of people who have never been to Money Generating College.

The most important person in these groups is the treasurer. When I was part of a Motshelo club we used a very strict screening procedure to choose our treasurer.  We chose the treasure based on their ability to answer the question ‘Do you know how to add four digit figures’. The correct answer was yes and we managed to get a confident lady. I am tempted to use overconfident, but I am just afraid she might just read this instalment. Litigation is the last thing one wants during these COVID-19 times when one cannot even afford to buy chicken feet for relish.

Things were going smoothly until the 11th month when her

ability to add four figures – the very reason we appointed her treasurer in the first place – started going south. Lapses in addition crept onto the records. We were horrified when she could not produce the record book. There was a story about it being left in a locked office at work. So we had to wait for the work week.

Treasurers are very unfortunate people especially around December. They are a target for thieves and have been known to get their bags snatched. There could be 500 people at the bus rank and the bag-snatchers will sniff out the treasurer and snatch the club’s annual savings efforts.

Treasurers are also likely to come down with ailments that are not even on the WHO list. I once heard of a treasurer whose eyes had suddenly turned red and when the club members went to check what was going on they found her wrapped in five blankets and her speech miraculously ‘gone’.

There’s also a big chance that there will be a huge rat infestation at a treasurer’s house and the rodents will target the record book or the money (But no bubonic plague for the residents, since rats cause the disease-Ed).

Or worse the aunt’s house could burn down on the very day she was visiting the aunt and on the very day she had taken the Motshelo records and money with her. Aunt’s houses just have that disturbing habit of burning down with Motshelo money.

I am tempted to think this year corona will feature prominently in the excuses train. This is the likely script:

Week 1: ‘I am in quarantine at Masa hotel so I can only bring the money after being released’

Week 2: ‘I have still not recovered and so my quarantine period has been extended’

Week 3:  ‘I am a contact trace so I am in isolation’

Week 4: ‘My dog has COVID-19 and I have been the one responsible for feeding it so I am a contact trace’

And on and on it will go until the penny drops.

Some think Motshelo is a hype job.  Some think Motshelo is too much ado about zilch. Some think of joining a Motshelo group next January.

(For comments, feedback and insults email

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