The Game of Chiefs and ‘Pawns’
Battle lines for what could be the most divisive bye-election in recent history; the Goodhope-Mabule bye-election have been drawn. Insiders say it will aggravate the clash between traditional and political power while some say Dikgosi bring a new dimension, dignity and respect to national politics. But, in reality, politics can be dirty. The mudslinging to score cheap political points can be intense and can descend to gutter level. Staff Writer, Queen Mosarwe unpacks the duel.
With political parties having laid out their strategies and the clock ticking for the Goodhope-Mabule Constituency bye election to be held on the 15th August , one thing is clear, it is a game of bogosi against politics. Residents of the constituency find themselves faced with a decision of whether to cast their vote based on political allegiance or show respect for their paramount chief as they were told during the launch of Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of the Umbrella Democratic Change (UDC) over the weekend in Pitsane. Kgosi Lotlaamoreng will be contesting for the Goodhope-Mabule constituency parliamentary seat against Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Eric Molale and Botswana Congress Party’s (BCP) Comfort Maruping.
“ We have seen it happen before with Roy Blackbeard of the BDP stepping aside to make way for his chief; what’s with Molale not doing the same?” former Bakwena regent Kgosi Kgosikwena Sebele said when launching Kgosi Lotlaamoreng. Blackbeard made way for Bangwato paramount chief, President Ian Khama at a constituency now known as the Serowe North Constituency.
“ I hear President Ian Khama will be coming here too, and if he tells you that Kgosi should be deprived of the vote, then he should show it with himself first,” Sebele added.
Kgosi Sebele said it was the chief that knows and understands the needs of his people and has the right to represent his morafhe in any platform that he so wishes. “There are several wards within a constituency but the chief is one for all of them; he represents more people than anyone else, ” he explained.
Advising Kgosi Lotlaamoreng , he said he should take a leaf from his own experience, as he was jailed for a crime he did not commit. “They are going to say whatever they want to say about you but in their conscience they know the truth,” he said. Kgosi Sebele explained further; “ The truth of the matter is that my real crime was being a staunch member of the Botswana National Front,” Kgosi Sebele added that had he been a member of the BDP, he would have long been sworn in as paramount chief of Bakwena, but that did not happen because he is a member of an opposition party.
Sebele served in the Molepolole Customary Court for several years before he was appointed to head the Customary Court of Appeal. He lost the throne in 2010 when he was convicted of stock theft and slapped with a four-year jail sentence which he later appealed and won.
Representative of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC), Themba Gwabeni said it was impressive to see the Goodhope -Mabule constituents wanting to vote in their Kgosi and him ( Kgosi) also having availed himself when called upon to represent his people in parliament. “We are happy that it is you wanting to represent your people, we are happy that you did not delegate and we know that when its you , the interest of the people are safeguarded.” Gwabeni stated.
Gwabeni said it was therefore left to the constituents to show respect for their paramount chief by voting him as their member of parliament. “ Tlotlang kgosi e kgolo ka tlhopho le nelwe ke pula Barolong, ”he said , stating there are two important beings on earth; God and a Kgosi. “ Do not embarrass us Barolong, go to the polls with the knowledge that there are two important beings in life; God and Kgosi,” he emphasized.
For his part, Maun West Member of Parliament, Kgosi Tawana Moremi II said history would be made if Barolong did not vote for their chief. “It will really be embarrassing if you do not vote for your Kgosi and it would be the first time it happened in Botswana,” he said, adding that even his constituents asked him to relay the message that Barolong should follow suit and vote their Kgosi to parliament.