The Bangwato tribal leadership has announced that it does not accept government's latest move to terminate Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane which came in quick succession to the State's decision to suspend the regent last week.
Yesterday Bangwato tribal leaders, Mokhutshwane Sekgoma, Rasebolai Kgamane, and Phokontsi Seeletso, released a statement indicating that they are currently disturbed by recent offensives Bangwato are subjected to by President Mokgweetsi Masisi's administration. The royals added there were increased incidences of provocation and open antagonism of their tribal leadership, including their Kgosikgolo Ian Khama despite their peaceful nature.
They said they were shocked to hear through the grapevine of the suspension of Kgamane before the latter received any form of communication from government about his fate.
“We also learnt that Minister Autlwetse convened a closed-door meeting at the Council Chamber in Serowe with our dikgosana who are subordinate to Kgamane and informed them before anything was said to Kgamane himself. Neither our kgosikgolo nor morafhe were accorded the respect of consultation by Minister Autlwetse. As if that was not enough we have since been slapped with an additional shock of termination of Kgamane while it had been said that there was going to be a commission to establish the justification and validity of his suspension. What needs to be known is that Kgamane had, in fact, noticed government of his intention to retire before he heard about his suspension and before he received any communication about the suspension. The response to his notice of intention to retire came after his suspension now in the form of a letter of immediate termination,” further read the statement from the Bangwato royals.
They said that Bangwato have since resolved in their kgotla meeting that government must also hold off the convening of kgotla meetings in any part of Gammangwato until the promised meeting with their tribal leadership is held. They said this includes President Masisi, his cabinet, and officials.
“We the tribal leadership affirm the resolution of the kgotla meeting that all morafhe of Gammangwato should stay away and not attend any kgotla meetings that may be convened by President Masisi, his cabinet, and officials anywhere in Gammangwato, Bangwato Tribal Territory, until further notice. We know that government is capable of staging audiences and attendance with the public resources at their disposal but that will be just that,” they further stated.
The Bangwato royals also affirmed the resolution to not accept the suspension of Kgosi Kgamane who has since been terminated as their tribal authority nor any person purported as his replacement. “We wish to state for the record that as morafhe of Bangwato we are a peaceful people who respect and believe in consultation and the rule of law. We have never been uncooperative with government,” the royals declared in the statement.
Banwagto royals, who have been in conflict with Autlwetse over the latter’s role in mediating issues between Khama and Masisi, added that they are also disturbed and offended by Autlwetse’s disparaging remarks that he made to their dikgosana about former president Khama concerning matters of Khama’s constitutional entitlements being Pensions and Retirement Benefits.
They said as the royal uncles and morafhe of Bangwato, they would have expected government, as a matter of courtesy, to have brought to their attention by way of consultation any issues of alleged conduct unbecoming of Kgamane, including any disciplinary action contemplated against him for any alleged offence in the discharge of his duties.
They indicated that in March they were told about a letter of reprimand written by Autlwetse to Kgamane accusing the latter of allowing political meetings to be held in the main Kgotla in Serowe.
“The indicated basis for the accusation by Autlwetse was that the assembly in the main Kgotla by Ba-Gammangwato to consult over the persecution and harassment of our kgosikgolo by government, as well as matters of his welfare and safety in light of all that is going on around him which is disturbing our peace, was a political meeting. Autlwetse further instructed Kgamane never to convene or cause to be convened any Kgotla meetings anywhere in Gammangwato where our kgosikgolo and his family are subject. We consider this to be not only uncalled for but also an infringement on our lawful rights and those of our kgosikgolo with respect to his birthright."
They said they still maintain Minister Autlwetse is conflicted on this matter because he is at the centre of political rivalry in Serowe. Going forward the royal uncles said they cannot continue to sit back and watch as government continues to harass their tribal leadership and infringe upon their right to freedom of association and expression as morafhe. All evidence points to the source of all this being the attitude of government to our kgosikgolo due to his differences with President Masisi.
They also revealed that every time they convene as morafhe in their kgotla in Serowe they always observe an unusual presence of heightened numbers of riot police visibly geared for combat when "we are in peaceful assembly. We find this intimidating, alarming and offensive, and we consider it bullying on us by government". Contacted for comment Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja said he had just returned from an international trip and therefore does not know the latest issues concerning the Bangwato saga.
Efforts to reach Autlwetse were futile as his mobile phone was offline. In a previous interview, Autlwetse confirmed to Mmegi that a commission of inquiry will investigate Kgamane’s issues and a determination will be made afterwards.