‘Kgatleng Republic is wishful thinking’- Analysts
Two University of Botswana scholars, who teach political science, have dismissed demands by Bakgatla tribe and their Kgosikgolo Kgafela II to have an independent state away from the rest of Botswana as wishful thinking and an impossible dream.
Analyst Keaoleboga Dipogiso expressed shock at Kgafela II’s secessionist ambitions since, unlike Nigeria’s Biafra, Catalonia in Spain or America’s Texas, Kgatleng lacks the economic foundation and muscle to beat the drums of territorial separatism. “I do not know what informs such an idea because it doesn’t seem like the Kgatleng region has any economic basis to call for such endeavor,” he exclaimed!
The UB scholar further noted that the experience with other countries is premised on a serious struggle for resources, where tribes or peoples may feel they do not benefit fairly to national development while they possess major resources. “Normally that happens where there are are extreme social cleavages, marked with violence and toxicity that may lead to calls for independence,” said Dipogiso.
On the future and continued relevance of bogosi as an institution, Dipogiso cautions that dikgosi must appreciate that Botswana is a republic and that their relevance has long been at the mercy of an eon’s long gradual decline. “They should appreciate that political processes and institutions of democracy have overtaken the bogosi. Their relevance thus must be located within the broader calculus of democratic practice,” he advised.
Dipogiso is of the view that whether Kgafela II is around in Mochudi or not, it has little effect since bogosi has lost its shine and all tangible power and effect. “These developments clearly show how the influence of bogosi has since depleted, as even the terms of morafe-government relations as well as functions of the Kgotla forum have continued smoothly even in the absence of Kgosi (Kgafela),” he said.
His colleague, Mokaloba Mokaloba shares similar sentiments that Kgafela II’s separatist talk remains a pie in the sky with close to zero chances of realization.Further, he does not see sufficient appetite among Bakgatla tribesmen to ditch Botswana, as well as the dominant western civilization and its values for the unknown. “The idea seems to be coming from the top downward rather than the other way round. It’s more of a power and resource battle of the Bakgatla tribe estate more than any other just reason that can warrant secession,” said Mokaloba, dismissing Kgafela II’s rants.
Meanwhile, Bakgatla ba Kgafela in Mochudi betrayed their paramount Kgosi Kgafela II by effortlessly gracing the Presidential Commission into Constitutional Review despite a firm order not to do so. Countless Bakgatla braved the rain midweek and thronged the nucleon of traditional authority in Mochudi to partake in the hearings, despite explicit orders to the contrary.
Kgafela II, who remains a fugitive from Botswana’s justice system, wrote a letter to President Mokgweetsi Masisi in December 2021 wherein he barred his subjects from partaking in the hearings. Ironically, in 2011 Kgafela II himself challenged the lack of public consultation when the constitution was framed in 1965.
On Wednesday going into Thursday, the Bakgatla tribal authority appeared to be trapped between the whims of an indefatigable tribal overlord and the mighty ship of state.
Bakgatla regent, Kgosi Bana Sekai declined to answer whether participation was authorized from Moruleng in South Africa where Kgafela II has been in self-imposed exile since 2012. “Nnyaa, eo ga nkake ka e araba, o a bo o batla go ntsenya mo thaelong,” loosely translated to mean, “I cannot answer that question, you want to lure me into a set-up,”replied Kgosi Sekai when confronted.
In an explosive letter dated December 2021, Kgafela II said it must be explicitly clear Bakgatla will not participate in talks for constitutional reform, until the day they have fully seceded into a separate political entity. “Otherwise, we risk falling into error of betraying our forefather’s stance…and all their gains since 1870, which are systematically taken from us by politicians and foreign rule disguised as a democracy,” said Kgafela.
He also noted that it is only then, with their country in hand, shall they be in a position to meaningfully contribute to constitutional reform.
Kgafela’s dispatch, which has never seen a reply from the Presidency, lifted the lid on how his territorial ambitions threaten to redraw Botswana’s borders and makeup as a unitary state. It is further Kgafela’s wish to carve out a monarchical proto-state in the land he desires, expressing contempt for what he calls an “imposed foreign system of human affairs called ‘western democracy’ or ‘multi-party democracy’.”
He further states that, it is only then that Bakgatla will choose whether to retain their absolute independence, or semi – autonomy, within Botswana, at the very least after negotiating with the Federal State of Botswana.
Meanwhile, Kgafela appeared to anticipate the limits of enforcing his word, especially from afar. He noted that, while some tribespeople may oppose his cause and speak for themselves, none of them possessed a legal mandate to speak for the private ownership of the land in question.
The Vice Chairperson of the commission, Johnson Motshwarakgole said it isincumbent upon Bakgatla to see to it that Kgafela II gives his take on the review. “Anybody who sulks at this type of consultation, it’s equivalent to them approving the outcome thereof and I don’t believe that Bakgatla can say that because they are among the first to suggest a constitutional review as far back as 2010,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kgafela’s secessionist agenda was not without supporters in the tribal seat of his power. While several hardliners rose to second their sovereign, the majority seemed to favour a stronger traditional authority padded up with extra constitutional powers.
One Kabelo Kgamanyane labelled the constitution a fraudulent document and called for a return to precolonial status quo. Meanwhile, one Neo Molatlhegi supported the sentiments to bring back what she called usurped lands before fruitlessly ordering the commissioners out of the Kgotla.
Speakers, Japtha Radibe and Kgosi Leburu opined for the reinforcement of Bogosi under a standalone ministry while one Mosweu Pilane said the institution should be made a legal 4th arm of government.
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