January 16, 2002

Discussion on tribalism in Botswana

Bakgatla Ba Ga Kgafela in Mochudi have rejected the recommendation of The Balopi Commission that the name of their district should be changed from Kgatleng to East Central, to make it tribally neutral. At a meeting held over the weekend Bakgatla referred to the Commission as a "joke." They vowed to do everything in their power to defend the name of their district, adding that tribes which have been complaining of being discriminated against will cause war in the country. They also said it is their regent or paramount chief who will represent them in the House of Chiefs not any headman.

In his remarks the regent of Bakgatla, Kgosi Mothibe, briefed the kgotla meeting that the name of their District will be changed as a result of the Balopi Commission recommendations. He said it will no longer be a privilege of the paramount chief or his representative to sit in the House of Chiefs. For his part, the Paramount Chief, Kgosi Linchwe, said "I am surprised that the government did not consult us as tribal leaders and the society at large about the changes that they want to make. Personally I am against the change of name," said Linchwe. He said there is no tribe in Botswana that is being discriminated against. "I am the Paramount Chief of Bakgatla and now the government is turning around saying I should be called Territorial Chief. I cannot allow that nonsense to happen," said Kgosi Linchwe. Linchwe said the very tribes that are complaining of tribalism and lack of representation in the House of Chiefs have been given a chance to send their representatives to the House but failed "because they are fighting among themselves."

The member of parliament for Kgatleng West, Mr Rakwadi Modipane, also said he is against the change of names. "I am a Mokgatla in the Kgatleng District and our name will remain the same," he said. Other speakers said government should seriously look at bringing back the now discarded car number plates which they said showed where one came from. Dineo Bolele said "before they can change our district, first they have to change the name of the country. After this we will allow Kgatleng district to be changed; but with out that nothing will change." (BOTSWANA GAZETTE)

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