- Says tribal leaders were unhappy with Khama administration
- “Our country’s not complete without tribal leaders” Masisi adds
- Expresses serious anger at how Kgafela was treated, “He will be here soon.”
- BDP wary of the damage done by Chiefs in previous elections
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a serious commitment to mend broken relations with tribal leaders, most of whom harbour resentment over their treatment by the previous administration led by former president Ian Khama.
The BDP had tumultuous battles with tribes and their leaders in the past with most tribal leaders pushed into politics to settle scores with the BDP. The have in the past hit the ruling party where it hurts most and in all the contestations involving tribal leaders the margins have been embarrassing.
In an audio leaked, Masisi who was addressing the Botswana Democratic Party MPs candidates retreat workshop on Sunday is heard saying a lot of tribal leaders were unhappy with the past administration, an anomaly that will be a priority on his agenda.
“A lot of tribal leaders were also unhappy with us. The other even went to an extent of dumping Botswana for South Africa- Kgafela of Bakgatla. And we know very well that our country is not complete without our tribal leaders. We must accept this reality,” Masisi is heard saying in the clip to thunderous applause from his audience.
“I will not rest until Kgafela is back home. I will not, I will not,” he added.
A source in the party says the BDP is treading carefully this time around to avoid provocative issues to the tribes in the run up to elections and acknowledges that the institution of Bogosi in Botswana, like in many countries still plays a major role in the political landscape. History has shown that chiefs are still very influential figures in their communities. In Botswana all the vocal chiefs constituencies are under opposition and a cursory look at previous developments show that all the tribes whose chiefs have expressed disgruntlement with the government have been voting for the opposition.
Bakgatla, Batawana, Balete, Barolong who have been having quarrels with the government have been voting for the opposition and changes in circumstances herald a fluid and unpredictable upcoming election. Bakgatla have fielded Kgafela’s brother-Mmusi, Batawana leader Kgosi Tawana Moremi is not contesting together with Barolong leader-Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II. The Balete land saga still persists and they have taken the government to court. There are other tribes with other issues like Batlokwa and many others which are fighting for recognition.
Political scientist, Thabo Seleke is of the view that ethnicity and traditional modes of governance have influenced – positively and negatively – the growth of democratic institutions in many states. “Bogosi strongly poses as an acceptable parallel government operating at local government. In Botswana, Bogosi remains a very critical institution in governance, Magosi serve as spokespersons for their people, and they are quick in calling attention to any issues that are perceived to have negative effects on them and their people,” he posits.
According to him, a discussion on the institution of Bogosi will not be complete without a brief statement on the role of the political elites and elite chiefs. “While in the early period, Magosi were usually illiterate, today most of them are not. Communities are also looking for Dikgosi who can lobby politicians, governments and non-governmental organizations for development projects,” he says.
Seleke says in Botswana modern, educated chiefs present a new agenda for change that calls for transformation of the institution of Bogosi.
“Although in the postcolonial period, some scholars have predicted the natural death of the institution, it nonetheless has its appeal because for the country it is a way to define our identity as a nation. Bogosi will remain a very important part of Botswana’s governance for a long time. It is far from being obsolete,” he says.