Self-exiled BaKgatla Ba Kgafela Sovereign, Kgosikgolo Kgafela II has proposed a two-pronged strategy to resolve, once and for all, the perennial trials and tribulations of his Botswana-based subjects.
Addressing multitudes – mostly from Botswana- that had thronged his ‘last stand’ - Kgabutle kgotla in Lesetlheng, Moruleng – South Africa to celebrate BaKgatla Heritage Day this past Sunday, Kgafela offered an absolute stunner! The ultimate solution to his people’s woes, he said, was only a comprehensive Constitutional review that would guarantee an independent BaKgatla State. In fact, until the republican constitution is reviewed, Kgafela swore he would not set foot in Botswana! This exhortation evoked a collective sigh of desperation from the crowd.
It was perhaps what his audience had not expected to hear – but then again, Kgafela is a free spirit, some say controversial, who speaks his mind at will! His entrance into Kgabutle, preceded by that of the Queen, Mohumagadi Mma Matshego, was grand and regal.
Both were respectively led by mephato ya bojale and bogwera (age regiments) adorned in their traditional and customary garb and singing songs in praise of the royal family’s chivalry. At the mention of Kgafela’s arrival by programme director, Setshedi Rasepae, a freak whirlwind swept through the grounds as if to cleanse it, and in the process sent the exhibition stall of Phuthadikobo Museum tumbling over. The joint age regiments led Kgafela into the Kgotla with thunderous renditions of dikoma as everybody stood up in reverence, absorbed in the reverie of a cultural carnival.This stirred up nostalgia among the elderly sections in the crowd whilst the young soaked into the rich history of this tribe - hearing perhaps for the first time- how Kgosi Kgamanyane fled from Paul Kruger in 1869 to Bechuanaland.
Upon arrival in Bechuanaland BaKgatla would endure suffering at the hands of Kgosi Sechele of BaKwena and later at Kgosi Khama of BaNgwato and then at the hands of Khama’s son, Seretse Khama in 1966 and finally suffered under the yoke of Khama’s grandson, Ian Khama, according to Kgafela, who told his subjects that Mmammitlwa was his ‘last stand’ from which BaKgatla would wage all their wars and battles to reclaim their land. The affair was attended by pomp and ceremony. From the royal house Kgafela’s mother, Mma Seingwaeng; as well as Kgafela’s siblings Seingwaeng; BaKgatle and Mmusi were in attendance as were Kgafela’s children, Matshego, Tebele and Sedibelo.
Kgafela’s uncles were also there, Mothibe Linchwe and Kgosi Segale as well as Motshwarelela Kgosi in Mochudi, Kgosi Bana Sekai, who introduced guests among them president of Alliance for Progressives, Ndaba Gaolathe and Mayor of Gaborone Kagiso Thutlwe. As for those based in South Africa, Morena Mochele welcomed the guests, while Kgosi David Mpule Pheto gave an overview of the legal cases that eventually led to the Baloyi Commission, whose report has vindicated BaKgatla’s grievances over former Chief’s Representative Nyalala Molefe Pilane’s handling of BaKgatla’s assets and traditional affairs.
There was also Morena Ramono Pilane in attendance.
Turning to the issue in Botswana, Kgafela lamented that BaKgatla are continuiously wailing about their living conditions and circumstances in Botswana. He advised them that a time comes for those who cry to get solutions to their problems. Kgafela said when he left Botswana in 2012 he had told Batswana that their problems were two-faced, the Constitution and a corrupt Government. The solution to these problems, he said, is simple – it is to change the Constitution and shun a corrupt government. Kgafela reiterated that Botswana constitution is not of Batswana’s making but is an invention of “Seretse Khama and his friends, Masire and others”. He said the government is corrupt, but that Batswana don’t want to take it to task or make it account, instead they choose to imprison diKgosi who stand up to demand justice. “I was thrown out of Botswana for demanding a review of the Constitution and demanding that we shun a corrupt government,” he said.
The solution to all Batswana’s problems is to change the Constituion. He said to do this is very simple, as it requires getting the President to sign the Referundum Act to agree to kick out Seretse’s constitution.But the problem with Batswana, he said, is that they like to vote for political parties, they like voting but don’t want to march for referendum or to face the reality of corruption – which is hypocrisy. Kgafela likened the Botswana constitution to an old suit that has grown short and no longer fits its owner (ke wandikhalela).
He said former President, the late Sir Ketumile Masire had indicated when he vacated the presidency that it is old and needs reviewing, as did Mogae and now Masisi, but lamented that this was all talk and no show. As for Ian Khama, Kgafela said he never spoke of the need to review the Constitution during his presidency. Kgafela told BaKgatla that there had been talk prior to the Heritage Day celebration that he was going to advise Batswana how to vote in the general election. He dismissed this as false. “I don’t care for your eletions, I only want that you change the Constitution, let there be accountability and peace in Bechuanaland,” he said deliberately using Botswana’s colonial name presaging the thrust of the day’s message.
“Until you change the Constitution, I swear that Kgafela will not set foot in Botswana. I will not set foot in Botswana whilst your Constitution remains as is,” he repeated. Kgafela also denied suggestions that there are certain people in Botswana that are in talks with him regarding his return to Botswana. “I am not talking to anyone!” he said insisting that whoever wants to talk to him must “earn that right to talk to me by changing the Constitution and desisting from corruption and public looting”. Kgafela told BaKgatla that this was his solution to their plight and that they should never come to him crying, as he was now closing this matter!
BaKgatla’s trod to independence
Kgafela said BaKgatla are not like other tribes because their journey to Bechuanaland is unlike other tribe’s. Further, he said no tribe’s King has been imprisoned for no apparent reason except for him and the late Kgosi Seepapitso of BaNgwaketse.
BaKgatla’s history is also unique as captured in Professor Fred Morton’s book as well as Isaac Schappera’s writings and lately the Baloyi Commission Report. However, Kgafela mentioned other records that he encourage his tribe to read in order to have a full appreciation of their history and desist from the temptation to speak off-tangent and in ignorance about Kgafela’s issues.
These, he said are the 1953 report by Lord Haley issued by the Queen of England in 1953. It was a report on the enquiry regarding tribal relations in Bechuanaland. The report was prompted by Kgosi Linchwe I who had written a letter to the Queen of England in November 1894 complaining about the conflicts between BaKgatla and BaKwena in Bechuanaland. Kgafela explained that the Queen of England answered Kgosi Linchwe’s grievances by instituting a Boundaries Commission headed by Captain Good Adams, who later became known as Lord Hamilton.He said that BaKwena and BaKgatla made their submissions and gave evidence at that Lord Hamilton’s Commission and at the end Lord Hamilton demarcated and set out the boundaries which were approved by Queen of England through Proclamation No. 9 of 1899. Kgafela said it was through that statute that BaKgatla ba Kgafela tribe was legally given their land as a means to resolve the conflicts that had plagued them and BaKwena at the time. “Now the land of BaKgatla in Bechuanaland is theirs – they fought for it and thereafter the Queen of England gave it to them by law – I thank her and genuflect before her,” he said to shouts of approbation from the crowd.
Kgafela said after Proclamation No. 9 of 1899 another law was enacted known as Tribal Territories Act of 1933 to confirm Proclamation No. 9 of 1899.He said that Lord Haley’s Report of 1953 confirms that the land of BaKgatla belongs to Morafe and Kgosi and noone else. “It is their land because they fought for it and secondly because the Queen of England gave it to them by law. “We have a Title Deed on the form of Statute and a Formal Report from the Queen of England’s Office,” he said.
Kgafela said that since history and law confirm that “that is our land, I want it back and I am going to get it. “We have long suffered in that land at the hands of Seretse Khama’s unfair practices,” he said adding that Seretse Khama had taken BaKgatla’s land by treacherous means. Kgafela said that his father, the late Kgosi Linchwe II had also written a letter in December 1965 to Botswana government complaining that BaKgatla were being cheated of their land and rights but was ignored.
Kgafela said all of BaKgatla’s groanings and sufferings could therefore be traced to Seretse’s administration.
“Although you have your own land with full rights over it, you have allowed foreigners whether MoNgwato or MoKwena to come and take this land from you willy-nilly while you stay quiet.
“All your suffering is caused by your keeping quiet at these injustices. I have fought over this matter whilst in Botswana. It is the reason that they wanted to kill me - for speaking this truth, which I am speaking today”.
Despite the recent lifting of his derecognition by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Kgafela said he cannot go to Botswana because there are charges over his head for which he would be imprisoned when he lands there.
He said he had been charged among others for the illegal flogging of his subjects, but that this was just a smokescreen to blur the real reason, which was his audacity to open the Pandora’s Box of history.
How to reclaim BaKgatla’s land
Kgafela said the land would be reclaimed through legal means, however protracted the battle, since he does not subscribe to blood letting, but is an adherent of negotiations and mediation.
“As BaKgatla Ba Kgafela starting with me- I and my family – Mma Matshego, Matshego, Tebele and Sedibelo - from here we are going to Mafikeng High Court to file a summons,” against Botswana Government.
Other respondents will follow with time. He said any other MoKgatla who wished to join the Royal Family in this crusade was free to do so since it is voluntary. “Our demands are to be given our land as it were in 1899 and 1933. We want full ownership of the land failing this we want Fair Compensation so that we can leave, as we have done!”
Kgafela told BaKgatla to get it into their heads and minds that the “Royal House has left for good from Botswana because we were chased out”.He said the only thing that remains “for us is to claim back our land or be compensated fairly”. The end result of reclaiming BaKgatla’s land as it were is that “You will be independent in your land” just as South Africans, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho are. “So will we in our land, Kgatleng after we win the case,” he promised. He said once the case starts after summons the respondent will be given time and then the case will be tried. “We will give evidence as we did in Mafikeng, Maluleka and Baloyi Commission,” He said once judgement is handed down, they’d send a Deputy Sheriff to Botswana to execute it.
“We will be given our land or fair compensation– if it is the value of our land at say P10 billion then the Deputy Sheriff will attach the equaivalent sum,” he said. Kgafela said only this solution would bring to an end the fairy tale of BaKgatla’s suffering. Kgafela said he had made a resolution and written a letter on behalf of all BaKgatla to this effect which will be given to the Morafe for any willing member to sign. He said noone is forced to take this “road to BaKgatla ba Kgafela independence with us (royal family) if he or she does no want”. But if there be any MoKgatla who has a better solution to BaKgatla’s grievances Kgafela dared him or her to come to Kgabutle kgotla in December to proffer his or her solution and explain how he or she will execute it.
Going forward Kgafela said he does not want to hear any other issue except solutions to this matter.
“It is my solemn duty to claim our land back. There is only one issue, we want our land back, and we want it now! I am done, this is the solution. It is up to you whether you take it or not. “This is where we go our separate ways on this day, September 29, 2019 will be etched in history as the day that BaKgatla began a new journey. “If you don’t like this issue, it’s too bad, because it may not be your duty but for me it is a matter of duty because I have to finish what Kgosi Linchwe I, Kgosi Linchwe II and Kgosi Molefhi fought for,” he said.
Is this solution practical?
A legal expert that Botswana Guardian spoke to advised that Mafikeng High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear a matter of such magnitude as it has bearing in territorial integrity of another sovereign state.He said according to international jurisprudence, individual countries must have control over their own affairs. He said only matters of international interest like piracy, hijacking etal, can be heard in a different jurisduction such as the International Court of Justice, provided the consent of the other country / state is secured.For instance when Botswana sought the intervention of the ICJ in its dispute with Namibia over Sedudu Island, Namibia had to give its consent to have the matter heard by the ICJ.
Although BaKgatla ba Kgafela tribe straddles both Botswana and South Africa, the two countries are independent sovereign states bound by international covenants and treaties that govern cross-border, bilateral and multilateral relations between states.
Further, with the collapse of the Southern African Development Community’s Tribunal, Kgafela’s options to get back BaKgatla’s land in Botswana appear limited. Perhaps he could seek recourse from the African Court on Human and People’s Rights of the African Union. Kgafela once lost his challenge against the Constitution of Botswana at the highest Court in the land. This obviously makes any repeat legal challenge, especially waged from outside, vexatious and an insurmountable task to bear. But then Kgafela has fought prevailed against Nyalala Pilane and big mining businesses! However, the thought of advancing the cause for tribal secession in Botswana is another non-starter, which makes his prospects all the more dimmer, says political observers.