Minister Kgotla Autlwetse has put on a thick skin as he prepares to call the bluff of Ba-Gammangwato tribal leaders threatening President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his cabinet from addressing Kgotla meetings in the territory.
Autlwetse is the Minister responsible for Local Government and Rural Development which portfolio also covers tribal administration.
While the agitated tribal leadership has announced that Masisi and his ministers should hold off any meeting in any of the Gammangwato Kgotla, Autlwetse defied the warning and scheduled meetings with Dikgosi in the district starting this week Tuesday with a meeting in the Boteti Region.
According to a Savingram from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development dated 3rd May 2022, the minister will hold meetings in Boteti, Tutume, Tonota, Bobirwa and Mahalapye Sub Districts.
The minister will be holding the consultative meetings will all Magosi, headmen of Arbitration to Kgosi. Key to the consultative meetings, the minister is expected to speak to the issues of the welfare of tribal leaders, their functions and mandate as stipulated in the Bogosi Act and political interference in the Bogosi institution.
Autlwetse’s meetings are expected to soon be followed by President Masisi visit to Serowe where he is expected to officially open some of the projects in the village and surrounding areas.
President Masisi revealed recently in Serowe when he visited Autlwetse’s homestead following an arson attack that he would return to the village to officiate at some of the projects especially the roads which have been under construction.
This is expected to include the Palapye-Serowe road which is under maintenance. Masisi has indicated that like any other village, Serowe deserves development and he will surely bring developments to the village.
There has been division within the tribal leadership in the Gammangwato territory fuelled by the fallout between President Masisi and his predecessor Ian Khama.
There were accusations of political interference prior to and post the 2019 general election which affected the employment of some of the tribal leaders including; Headmen of arbitration, Headmen of Records and Dikgosi, where appointments and contract renewals were centres of controversy.
Autlwetse has been the centre of accusation from the Ba-Gammangwato tribal leadership in the current standoff between them and the government.
The tribal leadership led by Mokhutshwane Sekgoma, Rasebolai Kgamane and Phokontsi Seeletso have launched an onslaught on Autlwetse and Masisi’s administration.
This comes after a series of events emanating from the standoff between Masisi and former President also Ba-Gammangwato Kgosi, Khama.
The tensions escalated last week after Minister Autlwetse fired Ba-Gammangwato Regent Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane from office a few days after being slapped with a suspension letter.
Autlwetse has been labelled by the tribal leadership as a conflicted person between Khama and Masisi and is at the centre of the rivalry.
In their statement, the tribal leadership has indicated that it rejects Kgamane’s dismissal and accused the government of harassment.
“Having regard to the concept of conflict of interest, we maintain that Minister Autlwetse is conflicted on this matter. He is at the centre of political rivalry in Serowe which is a factor in the differences between President Masisi and former President Khama.
“In any case in keeping with our Setswana culture, norms and tradition it would be an abomination for Autlwetse to be a facilitator or participant in seeking a resolution of a matter involving his own Kgosi.
"We cannot continue to sit back and watch as the government continues to harass our tribal leadership and infringe upon our right to freedom of association and expression as morafhe, as well as the right to use of our dikgotla across Gammangwato.
“All evidence points to the source of all this being the attitude of the government to our Kgosikgolo due to his differences with President Masisi,” they said, adding that it turns out that Masisi’s pious words when he was in their kgotla in November last year were an empty promise.