Botswana Guardian has established this through Kgafela’s recent application before Mafikeng High Court in which he wants the court to force North West Province Premier Thandi Modise to derecognise Nyalala as the leader of Bakgatla in Moruleng and recognise his preferred choice Mpule David Pheto as Bakgatla acting leader in South Africa.
The high profile case is expected to test Kgafela’s power to force the premier to do as he wishes. According to information from South Africa, Modise and Nyalala are opposing Kgafela’s application and have since filed answering affidavits with the high court.
Maclean Cortez Letshwiti
A prominent businessman though he is not a royal family member, is very close to Kgafela and other members of the royal family. In fact he is one of the few trusted friends of Kgafela. With the financial muscle Letshwiti is one of the most influential persons around Kgafela. In his supporting affidavit, businessman Maclean Letshwiti describes himself as Kgafela’s financial and governance advisor of many years. He says that he has advised Kgafela before and after he was enthroned leader of Bakgatla. He says that after Kgafela was enthroned Bakgatla leader he asked him to assist to commission an audit to review governance, finances, processes and related investigations. He says in his affidavit that several meetings were held in Mochudi in which the matter was discussed, but it was clear that Nyalala Pilane was not happy with the commissioning of the audit. ‘His opinion then was that the label of our exercise as a forensic audit would raise unnecessary eyebrows with the business community particularly the international investors.’ He says that despite his reluctance, the formalisation of the committee was reached with the committee comprising himself, Nyalala, Zitha Dube, Seingwaneng Kgafela, and Butler Phiri a senior partner at Price Waterhouse firm. According to Letshwiti the engagement of BDO Spencer Steward to audit the affairs of the tribe in Moruleng was not without controversy. He says that after the decision was reached to engage the firm Nyalala delayed to sign the formal letter of engagement for review and investigation services. He says that Nyalala was supposed to have signed the documents in December 2011, but signed the documents in February 2012. “The work progressed at an alarming slow pace because of Nyalala’s lack of cooperation from the office of first respondent,” he says. He says that after the auditors finalised the report and passed it to them, he made several recommendations to Kgafela regarding operations in Moruleng. In one of the recommendations, he recommended complete overhaul of corporate governance systems at the tribe and trust levels. Further he recommended that the existing senior management executives could not be trusted to reform the organisation.
A very senior member of the royal family, Linchwe describes himself as a loyal soldier to the late Bakgatla leader Kgosi Linchwe II. His loyalty to Linchwe II is also evident in his undying support of his son Kgafela Kgafela II. When Kgafela relocated to South Africa Ramono was among the few supporters who relocated with him. He says in his supporting affidavit that in 1975 he joined Kgosi Linchwe II as his second in command in a project, which was called Underground Military Machinery, which operated underground under the command of Linchwe, but supervised by the ANC leadership. He says during that time Kgosi Linchwe concealed and distributed arms for the ANC and accommodated refugees in Mochudi. Linchwe, who recently resuscitated his SA citizenship, which he had ditched in 1973 for Botswana citizenship, says that he was at a meeting in which Nyalala agreed to retire on the 30th July 2012. A decision, which Nyalala later said he was forced to make under pressure from Kgafela. Linchwe’s take is that Nyalala was insubordinate to his master – Kgafela. He says that Nyalala had tried to block Kgafela from acquiring SA citizenship by his refusal to expeditiously assist him. He says that in doing that he did not want Kgafela to succeed in his mission to settle in South Africa and demand him to account to him. According to Linchwe the BDO audit has exposed Nyalala. “The truth of this entire matter is that Nyalala is stealing money and other property from the tribe. He is defrauding the tribe. The royal family was not fully aware of this character of Nyalala that he is a thief wearing royal uniform.” Linchwe is one of the few people who have access to Kgafela. In his affidavit he clearly states that he has been with Kgafela in South Africa ever since May 2012. He says that he has been involved in the processes of seeking accountability from Nyalala, the traditional council and staff.
Bana Sekai Linchwe
One of Kgafela’s most trusted lieutenants Sekai has endeared himself among Kgafela loyalists in Botswana. He is Kgafela’s attack dog and flak catcher. He has been loyal to his master ever since he was enthroned in 2008. If there is anyone who is not afraid to speak his mind it is Bana Sekai. His lack of diplomacy is legendary. He was recently involved in a public spat with Mothibe Linchwe, one of Bakgatla’s senior tribesmen. He later told a local radio station that he had to put him in his place. He deposed an affidavit in which he gave a picture of his position in the royal family. He says that he is currently in charge of the tribe in Botswana and reports directly to Kgafela. He narrated how Nyalala had initially expressed willingness to retire only for him to somersault later. He says that he was present at the 30th June 2012 meeting where the decision to retire Nyalala was taken. He says that during the meeting Nyalala assured Kgafela that he would not contest the throne with him. He said, ke a go tshepisa Kgabo gore nna ga nkake ka lwela bogosi jwa gago, ke a itlhaloganya. This Translates to mean, “I promise you Kgabo that I will not contest your throne because I understand who I am,” read Sekai’s affidavit. Sekai is of the view that the stand taken by Nyalala is contrary to his assurances, but a usurpation of the throne. “The present behaviour of Nyalala has caused divisions of hate within the tribe. He has divided the royal family and the whole tribe more than any other person has ever done in our age.”
Clement Zitha Dube
The former Bakgatla ba Kgafela Tribal Authority chief financial officer is the only senior officer who is in Kgafela’s corner. Dube was fired after falling out with Nyalala Pilane and has since joined forces with Kgafela. His inside knowledge of BBK affairs is a plus to Kgafela’s team. In his affidavit, he details the financial mess in Moruleng under the leadership of Nyalala. He says that shortly after his employment it came to his attention that something was wrong with the manner with which the finances of the tribe were handled. “It became clear that a chasm existed in communications channel between the offices of the tribe in Mochudi and the office in Moruleng. It became apparent that the office in Mochudi, especially the royal family, was not aware of what was going on with the finances of the tribe in Moruleng.” He says that Nyalala ran the tribal authority as his personal property failing to adhere to basic financial principles. He says that some time in 2012 Nyalala approached the traditional council requesting funds. “He told them [traditional council] that he had a personal tax liability problem and he needed money to pay his personal tax. The excuse that he gave was that prior to BBK acquiring back accounts, he used his personal accounts to conduct affairs of BBK,” he says adding that in the end the council agreed to give him R500 000.
According to court papers, South African lawyers Maponya Incorporated represent Kgafela. The Pretoria and Johannesburg based law firm is one of the few successful black owned law firms in South Africa. According to the firm’s website independent research by the London Chambers Global Guide for the World Leading Lawyers 2000 to 2001 and 2001 to 2002, Maponya was voted among the 12 leading commercial law firms in South Africa on mergers and acquisitions. “The firm is in a position to advise both private and public clients (including financial institutions) on account of its advanced service delivery mechanism, advanced technology, higher skilled networking partners and track record.” It is not clear as to who is paying for Kgafela’s legal fees but sources close to Kgafela this week told Botswana Guardian that Kgafela’s legal fees are well taken care of. Early this year the law firm is alleged to have attempted to attach Bakgatla ba Kgafela property following Kgafela’s failure to pay his legal costs. The tribal Authority is alleged to have informed the law firm that BBK was not responsible for Kgafela’s legal fees.
Nyalala Pilane: The enemy
The man Kgafela is up against is not new to controversy – ever since his appointment as Bakgatla leader in South Africa in 1996, Nyalala has been in and out of court. He comes across as the most divisive figure in Moruleng. Some subjects in Moruleng have failed to recognise him as their ruler. More than a year ago Nyalala and Kgafela were allies. Kgafela and his father had defended him on numerous occasions and stressed that he is the legitimate ruler of Bakgatla in Moruleng. The fallout according to court papers was due to Pilane’s alleged failure to account to Kgafela and his refusal to abdicate the throne. Pilane has always made it clear that Kgafela is his master and his refusal to leave the throne for Kgafela’s preferred leader has raised speculations that Pilane wants to cling to the throne at all costs. Sources say that his connection with Luthuli House [African National Congress] is the reason why he has been able to get away with ‘murder’. Nyalala is said to be one of the major funders of ANC and was Jacob Zuma’s backer at the ANC congress in Mangaung. Kgafela’s backers are reading Nyalala’s influence in the premier’s refusal to derecognise him [Nyalala] as leader of Bakgatla in South Africa. Kgafela also has connection to the ANC, sources allege that one of his closest advisor and backer General Deacon Matlhe is a former chairperson of MK Military Veterans Association. His father’s role in the struggle against apartheid is surely something that has been recognised by the ANC.