The Setswana proverb ‘Ina Lebe Seromo’, which when loosely translated means ‘your name defines your character’, ‘your name is your destiny’ or ‘your name is who you become’, aptly sums up Nxaraga village chief, Kgosi Gaoletlhwe Kgosigaenyatswe.
The chief argued the ‘black listed’ villagers had failed to contribute P50 towards the construction of a kitchen at the village’s only primary school.
Kgosigaenyatswe told The Monitor that sometime in April concerned by the situation at the village primary school, his office in collaboration with the Village Development Committee (VDC) and Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) held a kgotla meeting with residents at which a resolution was taken for residents to contribute P50 in order to raise funds for the construction of a kitchen structure for the school.
Kgosigaenyatswe suggested to the villagers that the P50 could be split into instalments of however much an individual could afford.
“Yes, I have instructed that people should contribute P50 before they could get hired because it’s been months since they promised to contribute to no avail. They have been working for Ipelegeng, getting paid but failing to contribute towards the village development project as promised,” he said.
Asked if he knew that what he is doing is against the law, Kgosigaenyatswe conceded to be aware but said, “Ee ke a itse gore molao ga o letle mme ke bone gore kele kgosi ya motse wa Nxaraga ke tseye tshwetso e ka gore baithuti ba a sokola ha gole dipula gaba kgone go apeelwa. Ke beile molao wame kele kgosi ya Nxaraga ka gore go sokola bana ba bone. Baithuti ba, ba apeelwa ka molelo mo lebaleng selo sese botlhoko ka gore ka paka ya dipula gaba kgone go apeelwa ba tlhola ka tlala,” Kgosigaenyatswe said.
Kgosi Kgosigaenyatswe said he had to step in so that residents could raise funds for the construction of the kitchen structure as promised. He said he had implored the villagers on several occasions to contribute the agreed P50 in instalments, but they have failed to make the contributions.
“I had pleaded with them to contribute at least P10 or P20 every month, but they have been getting paid on Ipelegeng and failing to contribute. I had to step in because their children will suffer, especially that the rainy season is fast approaching,” he said.
Asked how much has been raised so far, Kgosigaenyatswe said a sum of P1,036 has been collected adding that he wishes residents could join hands and contribute more. He added that his wish is for the village to be able to raise enough funds so that when they ask for donations elsewhere they do not come empty-handed.
However, this move does not sit well with other residents who have described Ipelegeng as their only source of employment. They decried that if denied the opportunity to be hired they will struggle to feed their families.
Gaolebalwe Katukwi, who is a mother of six, is one of those who were sent back home after failing to contribute the P50. She is not pleased with Kgosi Kgosigaenyatswe’s decision and pleaded with President Mokgweetsi Masisi to step in and reign on the village authority from oppressing villagers.
“Yes, as villagers we agreed to contribute towards the construction of the kitchen structure, but it is wrong for the chief to block Ipelegeng to hire residents just because they failed to contribute,” Katukwi said. “There are no job opportunities in Nxaraga village and Ipelegeng is the only source of employment. It was wrong for the village chief to deny us that right, it is not fair.”
Katukwi added she is using the little she gets from Ipelegeng to support her children and being denied the job opportunity to work this month will result in her family starving. The concerned resident said she has pleaded with the area social worker, VDC chairperson and Kgosigaenyatswe to hire her as she will contribute the said amount by the end of the month but they still spurned her.
Other two villagers who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation shared the same sentiments as Katukwi that the decision to block their employment was not fair. One of them told The Monitor that he will travel to Maun this week to seek clarity on the matter at the District Council.