• Councilor Abram says Kgosi should recuse herself • Kgosi clashes with morafe • P4 million spent in 6 months, only P200 000 so far made from sales • Kgosi owns up to mistakes, wishes to make peace with morafe
Mogobane Councilor Sisimogang Abram has accused Balete Kgosikgolo Mosadi Seboko of being conflicted in the government funded Mogobane Irrigation Scheme, saying she should recuse herself from the Gamalete Development Trust (GDT) which spearheads the irrigation scheme.
Abram made these accusations at a South East District Council meeting in which there was a heated exchange of words between Kgosi Seboko and councilors over the irrigation scheme.
Representatives of the development trust had come to brief the council on progress of irrigation scheme which was funded with P10 million by the Rural Development Council under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for its resuscitation.
According to Abram, Kgosi Seboko together with GDT made some decisions regarding the scheme that have compromised its mandate, procedures as well as dividing the Balete in Mogobane and in the greater Ga Malete area. He also decried GDT’s lack of transparency in the running of the project, saying it raises doubts over the report given by the Trust. “ She is the custodian of Batele and when it is her involved in some skeptical decisions over morafe property, who then do we report to?” he said, further stating that having Kgosi Seboko in the Trust means certain questions cannot be asked in respect and fear of her position as regent. One of the decisions alleged to have been taken by Kgosikgolo which angered people at Mogobane, is the fencing of the irrigation scheme which according to GDT Chairperson Lawrence Magosi, cost over P1 million.
Kgosi clashes with morafe
“As residents, we were surprised to see a group of unknown people busy fencing the scheme at our village without any knowledge of what was going on ; no one knew these people and upon being questioned, they said they were from Ramotswa,” said Abram, who expressed disappointment that the scheme would not benefit Mogobane people.
The Botswana Gazette is reliably informed that following complaints about lack of consultation by Mogobane residents on the matter, Kgosi Seboko called a kgotla meeting where they expressed displeasure at being sidelined on a project meant for their benefit.
“The kgotla meeting had to be cut short as the situation had gotten out of hand. Ever since then, Kgosi Seboko has never addressed a meeting at Mogobane, and to date the residents are still angry,” revealed Abram.
She herself confirmed the matter to this publication, saying she was willing to make peace with the residents.
Meanwhile, corroborating Abram’s concerns, councilor Adolf Mosalaesi said GTD should have and must continue consulting Mogobane residents since the oversight is a source of concern for Mogobane leadership and people. “There is no feeling of ownership of the project, especially on the part of the residents …they do not understand what is going on at the project,” he said, calling on Kgosi Seboko to rectify the mistake.
Meanwhile, Kgosi Seboko said there was no need for Mogobane residents to feel left out because the project belongs to all Balete regardless of where they stay; “Any property including the irrigation scheme belongs to all Balete, thus Balete of Mogobane should not think that the property at Mogobane belongs to them only.”
Another thorny issue raised about the project is that its land certificate is in the name of Kgosi Seboko. Abram says there is doubt as to who the irrigation scheme belongs to, Kgosi Seboko or the morafe: “Why couldn’t the certificate bear the Trust’s name and not that of an individual? What will happen tomorrow if she is no more and her children want that which belonged to their mother?” he asked.
Malete Landboard Chairperson Roy Letsatsi however says the certificate is in Kgosi Seboko’s name because she is the custodian of the tribe and she holds it on their behalf.
P4 million spent; no financial report, no audit
The GDT chairperson alleges that from the P10 million funded by government, about P4 million has already been spent in 6 months since operation of the irrigation scheme; with only P200 000 recovered from the sale of corn, green peppers, tomatoes and few heads of lettuce.
According to Magosi, in addition to the P1 million allocated for fencing, 4 nets measuring 70m*60m were made at a cost of P370 384, with the connection of a borehole and a reservoir all costing P325 682. A pipeline layout which included irrigation pipes and drips cost P384 012. A total of P500 000 is said to have been used on electricity, P300 000 on buying a van while P12 000 was used to buy machinery.
Briefing councilors on the project’s expenditure, Magosi said they experienced challenges with the borehole due to frequent electricity blackouts, and that they (GDT) decided to drill two more boreholes; one about 100 meters from the first borehole, while the other which Magosi admitted does not have enough water, is located a few kilometers from the initial borehole. A total of P149 660 was reported to have been used in the drilling of the two boreholes while P47 712 was used to test them.
Mogobane councilor (Abram) expressed dissatisfaction at the financial brief, saying he had hoped the full financial report would be presented as stated in the constitution and for the financial report to be presented at the end of the financial year, and for auditing to be done quarterly; “ Ever since the project began, we have not had briefing and one would have thought you would bring auditing report, more so that you have been finding it difficult to meet with the Council for briefing, ” he said.
Furthermore, he said it was embarrassing for the GDT to present incomplete figure to the council; “We cannot just briefed from talk notes without anything being shown on what and how the money disbursed for a morafe project was used. GDT should account to the people.”
According to Abram, there seemed to be secrecy in the way the GDT operated, saying they owe the morafe a lot of explanations. “This is morafe property and they need to know what happens to their belongings,” the emotionally charged Abram said, before excusing himself from the meeting, saying he did not want to be party to unfair and irrational decisions.
Abram had also demanded to know the signatories of the Trust, who were revealed to be the Trust’s Chairperson, the Treasurer and Kgosi Seboko. The Botswana Gazette has established that although Kgosi Seboko is a signatory, this is contrary to the Constitution of the Trust which states that only the Chairperson and Treasurer must be signatories. Kgosi Seboko however argued that her name was included because she is the custodians of morafhe property
On why they did not present audit reports, Kgosi Seboko said there was still time to prepare them; “ I don’ think we are that late; the noise made on the issue is unnecessary,” she said, explaining that the scheme had not been audited because prior to being given P10 million because it did not have money. “Besides, we have also been busy trying establishing the irrigation scheme.”
Kgosi Seboko owns up to mistakes
Kgosi Seboko has accepted that Balete in Mogobane could have been consulted more, but said things were rushed by government; “The government gave money quickly and wanted everything to be done fast, thus making it difficult to consult the people.”
Furthermore, she acknowledged that some tenders did not go through the procurement subcommittee due to time constraints. One such a tender was that toilets provision at the project. According to Kgosi Seboko, toilets were rented for P4 400 per month without passing through committee because they were needed quickly on site. However, she said going forward; they will engage the procurement subcommittee on coming projects like the construction of a shelter and ablution block among others.
Meanwhile, South East District Council Chairperson, Phenyo Segokgo, has since undertaken to mediate between Kgosi Seboko, councilor Abram and residents of Mogobane to restore peace.