- Batswana Muslims breakaway group suspicious of South Asian natives leadership
- “Breakaway groups still use our facilities for worship”-Muslim Association
- DIS advices Muslim Association to bar breakaway group leader from the Mosque
- “I do not discuss sensitive issues with the media.”- Isaac Kgosi
The Botswana Muslim Association is reported to have rejected advice from Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) boss Isaac Kgosi after he advised them to bar El Hassan Moemedi Lentswe, leader of the breakaway association, Botswana Muslim Supreme Council, from accessing their facilities amid growing tensions of mistrust and disagreements.
The breakaway organization is made up of indigenous Batswana who say they were fed up with how the Muslim Association is run, saying despite Islam having been introduced so many decades ago, everything is still packaged in Arabic and South Asian cultures, in the process closing out Botswana natives.
When the Muslim Supreme Council was formed some years back, it was understood that it no longer wanted anything to do with the Muslim Association. In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, the Muslim Association leader, Satar Dada confirmed that it is true that the breakaway group including its leader, Lentswe, still worship at their Association’s mosque.
“It is true they are still worshiping with us,” he said even though he did not want to be drawn into other issues. This publication has gathered that the association at some point met to discuss complaints of intrusion by members of the Supreme Council. “We were shocked and confused because if somebody does not want you, it goes without saying that he or she will not want anything to do with you. We felt threatened and insecure,” a highly-placed source within the association revealed.
As tensions and suspicions grew, some high-profile members of the association reported the matter to the DIS for investigation and advice accusing the breakaway group of “unnecessary radicalism.” Suspicions however are that The Director General of the DIS, Kgosi was roped in as a friend to the Indian natives through his business connections just to scare away the group to behave. Kgosi came into the dispute and advised the Muslim Association leadership to cut the story short by barring the “radicals” from attending services at their Mosque. Kgosi’s reasoning was, according the source, that they have a right to bar whoever they deemed suspicious or uncomfortable with.
In what was yet another evidence of the fallout, Muslim Association leader, Dada, a while back sued the Muslim Supreme Council leader, Lentswe, for several millions of Pula. The matter was however resolved amicably with both parties recently agreeing to lay down swords, a development confirmed to this publication by Lentswe’s lawyer, Dick Bayford, on Monday.
Asked whether he knows of the underlying dispute between the two Muslim groups, Spy Chief Kgosi said he doesn’t “discuss highly sensitive issues with the media.”
“I cannot discuss that with you, I hope you understand,” he added. While they appreciated Kgosi’s intervention, the Muslim Association are said to not have heeded his advice on the basis that it did not sit well with the Islamic teachings and laws which instruct that the Mosque belongs to nobody but Allah (God).
Contacted for comment, the Supreme Council leader, Lentswe said he is aware of the tensions but continues to pray for them to end: “We left to form an alternative branch which shall represent alternative views for those disgruntled by the association’s way of doing things. For years,while still part of the association, we had proposed alternative views in vain, we could not make it to key leadership positions because of our few numbers in the religion and that suffocated our voice,” Lentswe.
Asked on whether he knows that they are not entirely welcome at the mosque, he said “We know, we are not at war with anybody and we don’t expect anybody to be at war with us. The mosque belongs to Allah and we will continue to worship there and we don’t expect anybody to fire, bar or ban us,” he said.
On the involvement of Kgosi in the matter, Lentswe said he does not have full information on that but learnt about it through some of his close associates and “suspicions” following a mysterious break-in into his house where no valuables were stolen.
“I am not moved by DIS and no member of Supreme Council is because we are clean and only want change to grow the Muslim religion and increase Batswana’s uptake of the religion. The Muslims have beautiful and expensive Mosques but only a handful of Muslims who pray into those because we have not explored ways to localize and contextualize the religion,” he said.