Former Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone south west, Robert Molefhabangwe, a native of Gammangwato like former President, Ian Khama, accuses his tribal leader of dividing Ba Gammangwato by politicising the institution of Bogosi.

Following a fallout with his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi, Khama spearheaded the formation of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) in 2019. He went on to become its Patron. The formation of the BPF, according to Molefhabangwe did not only fuel the fight between the President and his predecessor but also triggered negative tribal sentiments within the country.

According to Molefhabangwe, “Due to the niggling accusations and counteraccusations, as well as the unending feud between former President Khama and President Masisi, it is unfortunate that Gammangwato, also known as the Central District, has turned into a platform for a nasty contestation between politics and Bogosi”

He said that neither the Bangwato tribe nor its Dikgosi are a creation of political parties, but that indeed, the institution of Bogosi predates political parties. Molefhabangwe was speaking in an interview after the just-ended Serowe west by-election over the weekend.

Molefhabangwe, who is a former Botswana National Front (BNF) member had a stint with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) following a fallout with the BNF, before he recently joined the Botswana Labour Party (BLP). He spoke to this publication in his personal capacity.

“In my view, Khama is making a big mistake. He should be mindful of the fact that Gammangwato includes many other tribes in different villages. Not all of them are Bangwato and this could lead to tribal differences between the different tribes in the Central District (CD) as those who do not belong to Khama’s tribe may not be ready to defend him at all cost because they have their own Chiefs,’’ the former legislator said.

He would like Khama to desist from politicising the Bangwato bogosi.

“Khama should differentiate between politics and bogosi and not conflate the two like he is doing at the moment,” Molefhabangwe warned. In his view, it is unfair for Khama to decline the Bogosi office and then manipulate the institution for his political interests.

Failure to separate the two, Molefhabangwe said, will not only continue to render Khama a divisive leader but will also turn "our" politics into a tribal affair led by tribal pressure groups and not political parties.

“Seretse Khama made his choice. Unlike Ian, he distanced himself from Bogosi in favour of politics and that saved the nation from anxiety. Unlike Ian who uses his position among Bangwato to advance his and his friends’ political interests, Seretse stayed away from traditional leadership,” the former MP said.

Molefhabangwe’s view is that Khama has deeply divided the people of Gammangwato. In Molefhabangwe’s view, Khama should have followed the footsteps of his father and those of the Bangwaketse paramount chief, Kgosi Bathoen Gasietsiwe who chose politics over bogosi without trying to do both.

The former legislator’s suggestion is that the way forward for Khama is for him to look for a political platform and not use Bogosi.

According to him, Khama’s project to capture Dikgosi has failed.

“His success is very minimal. This is evidenced by the fact that only the three Serowe constituencies listened to him. With the exception of Bobirwa and Tswapong constituencies, the BDP managed to retain all its traditional strongholds in Gammangwato,” Molefhabangwe noted.

He added that the other indication of failure by the Khama project is the fact that the BPF failed to field candidates in the majority of wards and constituencies in the Central District.