After a self-imposed hiatus from the social scene, MP for Maun West and also Batawana Paramount Chief Kgosi Tawana Moremi II sits down with SONNY SERITE for an exclusive interview where he reveals his future plans post 2019 national elections when he will be hanging up his boots on his 15-year political career.
The last time Tawana was visible on social media was seven months ago, March 26, when he uploaded a picture of his daughter riding a horse as his Facebook cover photo. Despite his silence on social media, Tawana says he has been following what people were posting on Facebook but just did not want to engage, more so that there are some people who are in the habit of misconstruing what he posts.
‘‘There are people with hidden agendas so at times you just have to starve them of something to use against you. You will find yourself arguing with someone on Facebook unbeknown to you this person is just an imbecile,’’ Tawana opined.
He, however, says he felt bad when he could not acknowledge posts from people he knows really do care about him. Tawana admits he has not been in a “good space” from last year until early this year.
He drank and smoked uncontrollably, he says. The breaking point came when he was diagnosed with some gastric complications and that forced him to quit alcohol and cigarettes altogether. When it comes to alcohol, Kgosi Tawana says he believes in only two things: drink hard and get drunk or do not drink at all, there is no in-between, he said jokingly. This he said when asked if he had stopped imbibing altogether or if he had just slowed down on alcohol consumption. ‘‘We drink to get buzzed so if you drink then go all out and if you don’t drink, then just don’t,” he said amid laughter. The downside to his sober life, he says, is that he finds it hard to hang around for long with people who drink because he cannot cope with their endless talk. ‘‘People always want to talk politics all day and night and I just can’t cope. I blame this impatience of quitting alcohol because back then I gelled easily,” he says.
Tawana looks healthy and lively. He looks happy and sober. He attributes all this to the new leaf he has turned in his life. He took time off from the public glare to self-introspect. ‘‘It has always been my desire to turn my life around when I reach 50 years of age but as fate would have it, the gastric ailment accelerated that resolution,’’said Tawana who is still at 47 years of age.
Batawana will be happy to know that after all, their paramount Chief harboured no intentions to forsake them forever for politics. While he previously swore to ‘never ever’ return to Bogosi, Tawana has had a change of heart and intends to reoccupy his place at the Maun Kgotla when his term in parliament ends in 2019. Tawana was installed Paramount Chief of Batawana in 1995 but resigned in August 2003 to follow a career in politics. His elder sister, Kealetile Moremi has been holding fort for him ever since. He says he feels Maun West deserves a new political leader with fresh ideas and priorities. ‘‘My priority was on land so it’s about time a new leader with different priorities comes in. I have escalated the issue of land distribution in Ngamiland with President Ian Khama who told me that his hands were tied while the then Minister of Lands Lebonaamang Mokalake said the issues I was raising were overtaken by events,’’ Tawana says with dejection.
He says he will not be endorsing any candidate to take over from him because he does not want to influence the decision of Maun West voters. ‘‘I am very close to both Galaletsang Mhapha and Moalosi Sebati both of whom I hear want to take over from me and as such I will not take sides with anyone of them,’’ Tawana says, further pointing out that he does not want a situation where he retires but having imposed his preferences on the electorates.
Tawana still complains about the lessened role of Bogosi in the society and feels politicians have turned dikgosi into nothing more than just obscure ceremonial leaders. ‘‘Dikgosi have now been turned into sheriffs we see in western movies. I wouldn’t say power is what I’m calling for in Bogosi but I’m of the view government has stripped dikgosi of their many functions,’’ he says.
Tawana says bogosi must be allowed to evolve and not be static. He says just as the church and political parties are allowed to make economic investments, tribes must also be allowed to invest. ‘‘Communal property must be protected. Even the late Sir Seretse Khama spoke of the importance of communal property. While I am not against the concept of Land Boards, I’m only worried that communal land is now being nationalised,’’ says Tawana. He is of the view that every traditional leader must be allowed to lead his tribe as uniquely as their tribes are, saying a kgosi in Maun should not be expected to use the same template of leadership with a kgosi in, say, Kanye because they lead two distinct tribes. He says he is always wondering how it can be made possible for a kgosi to lead his tribe without first having to be recognized as a government employee because such an arrangement would ensure dikgosi lead without taking instructions from politicians.
He expressed his worry at how un-resourced Dikgosi are when compared to political leaders. Dikgosi, he says, are the least endowed with resources when compared to other leaders such as district commissioners and politicians.
Now that he is going back to bogosi, should Batawana expect Mohumagadi anytime soon? ‘‘Oh yes that one will be taken care of,’’ said Tawana on whether he intends to tie the knot in the foreseeable future.