The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse has dismissed allegations made in a series of meetings held at Serowe kgotla that President Mokgweetsi Masisi does not want to meet their kgosikgolo Ian Khama.
Addressing dikgosi from across Serowe Administrative Authority on Wednesday in Serowe, Autlwetse said on several occasions Masisi attempted to organize a face to face meeting but continuously hit a snag. He said Masisi engaged former President Festus Mogae, former Cabinet Ministers and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) veterans Patrick Balopi, David Magang and the late minister Ray Molomo to broker peace, but the attempt hit a brick wall as during the talks Khama felt the delegation was taking sides. Thereafter, negotiations were abandoned.
Khama then selected a delegation of his own to handle the matter on his behalf, among them business moghul Charles Tibone, BDP Treasurer and motor magnate Satar Dada and former Ambassador Legwaila Legwaila. “Masisi endorsed them, citing no problem as long as they can come to a peaceful conclusion. Nevertheless, the talks once again fell through as Khama accused the delegation of leaning in favor of Masisi,” said Autlwetse.
According to Autlwetse, negotiations collapsed because Khama complained that his demands were not met, which include the reduction of cooks at State house 4. He also demanded to be provided with groceries. The other issue was that Khama demanded 15 armed security agents, a number higher than provided for all former presidents. “On all of these demands, Khama was asked if the number of cooks and security detail was not the same as for former President Festus Mogae, for which he answered yes. He was then asked whether Mogae was bought groceries, and the answer was no. These questions broke the camel’s back. Khama believes that both delegations favoured Masisi,” he said.
“The other issue was that Khama felt cheated by Masisi as he had expected that his brother, Tshekedi Khama will be nominated as Vice President of Botswana,” said Autlwetse, adding that all these issues were relayed to the Bangwato Uncles delegation that visited Gaborone to facilitate a meeting with Masisi.
Once appointed Vice President, Tshekedi would have been certain of succeeding Masisi as the next President under the automatic succesion dispensation used in Botswana.
“During the visit I explained to them (Uncles delegation) that Masisi and I were optimistic since the delegation was sent by the people of Gammangwato. Masisi felt that they were the right people to convince Khama to come for a face to face meeting. The parting shot was an agreement that after further engagement a meeting between the two will be held. Things took a nasty turn when the delegation reported back to Serowe, and told the tribe that Masisi had rejected their request for a meeting. They insinuated that Masisi and I wanted to lure Khama so that he can be arrested. Ironically, Masisi always repeatedly told cabinet that he does not want to see Khama in handcuffs,” explained Autlwetse.
“There is no how President Masisi can meet the Uncles Delegation without the presence of Khama. Masisi long requested that they facilitate a meeting between him and Khama so that they can present their side of the story. I have no intention of seeing Khama arrested, I am not like that,” pleaded Autlwetse, insisting that the talks can still be salvaged as the only solution that can bring an end to the Khama/ Masisi feud.
Announcing the suspension of Bamangwato regent. Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane on Wednesday, Autlwetse said a Commission will be set up to investigate a series of unsanctioned kgotla meetings to establish if the decision to suspend him is justified. He said Kgosi Kgamane ignored a couple of letters that instructed him do desist from holding kgotla meetings. He said the first letter was from former Minister of Local Government and Rural development Eric Molale, that instructed them to cease from convening at the Kgotla. “The second was from me. He ignored both. There was even some letter read at the kgotla which advised the tribe to ignore my instructions,” he said, emphasising that it has become clear that Kgosi Kgamane has been relegated to a spectator and lost his grip of Serowe kgotla.
“Everyone is doing what excites their ears. I don’t want to hide anything, Kgosi Kgamane has lost grip on his bogosi. Kgosi has lost grip of his kgotla, right now everyone is a chief and they can call a kgotla meeting to talk about whatever they want without being reprimanded,” warned Autlwetse.
Deputy Regent of Bamangwato, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said he was shocked by Kgosi Kgamane’s suspension, saying the minister could have at least pre-warned him about the decision. “I must say I am shocked because I was just with Kgosi Kgamane this morning before he departed for Gaborone and there was no mention of this. You should have warned me of this so that I shouldn’t be surprised with everyone else,” said Kgosi Serogola.
Some of the Tribal leaders indicated that the consultation by Autlwetse was a long time coming as they have been in the dark about developments developments happening at the kgotla. They said they only got information from newspapers and social media.
An attempt to speak to the leader of the Bagammagwato delegation Mokhutshwane Sekgoma was unsuccessful as he insisted that he is not going to entertain the Minister by responding to him in the media. He said they will however release a statement detailing what was brought forward by the Minister during his address of the tribal authorities.