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OF CHIEFS AND POLITICS

Yvonne Mooka

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Somewhere in the Letlhakeng sub-district lies a small village called Dutlwe with a population of around 1000 people. Among the prominent people of this settlement is one traditional leader who brags that he had long foretold what the country is experiencing right now with former president Ian Khama who has been complaining of ill-treatment and telling the world that Botswana has turned into a bad country under the current leadership.

When The Midweek Sun visited the settlement last week, Kgosi Douglas Segwagwa said he had long warned people that based on his general manner of doing things, Khama was not a good leader or even a good person. “Ke sale ke ba boleletse batho gore Khama gase motho. Go tsweng bogologolo kentse ke ba bolelela,” he said on the backdrop of what he had described as Khama’s bid to continue clinging onto power.

He recalled an incident when Khama was still president of Botswana and he had visited Takatokwane. “He had come to address us on agricultural reforms. He was coming up well until he ordered that the office in charge in Takatokwane should go and buy tractors right there and then, without first consulting with them or even finding out what funds were available to do that. He has proved with other instances that he just wants things done his way or nothing,” he said.

His assessment of the prevailing circumstances in Botswana is that the arrival of President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has bruised Khama’s ego. “Masisi is a wise man in my view. See how he came in, evaluated promises made by Khama and why they didn’t materialise. He is weighing them and redefining things. One would think he is embarrassing Khama intentionally but he is not. All he is trying to show us is that a president should put people first. “Take for example, the civil servants salary increase. Khama doesn’t have reasons as to why he didn’t want them increased because it has always been about himself,” he said.

Kgosi Segwagwa stated that the newly-formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) was formed out of Khama’s bitterness and anger ‘because Masisi is refusing to entertain him.’ His observation is that Khama was not ready to retire. “From what we hear we can deduce that he is the BPF president, and it means he wants to face Masisi in October. “If he wins, which I doubt, is he going to criticise government programmes that took shape under him?” asked the civic leader.

‘Politics make chiefs dishonest’
According to Kgosi Segwagwa, diKgosi should choose between politics and Bogosi. He said that unlike Bogosi, politicians lack order and destroy the nation with their selfishness. “Politicians have usurped power from us, at the same time, causing chaos in this country,” he said, adding that a chief who joins politics should get ready for a different world altogether.

“Chiefs should not join politics it makes them dishonest and untrustworthy leaders. Once they join politics, they start lying because they want votes,” he said, adding that any chief who joins politics should promise never to come back to Bogosi because they come back different, character-wise.

“Look at Khama, he is a man obsessed with politics and cannot let go of power. Now he calls Kgotla meetings to address his political issues instead of calling a political rally away from the Kgotla. “When he gets there, he tells morahe to leave BDP and BamaNgwato respond by taking his side because they are his subjects. Indeed they are his slaves,” he said, adding that Khama has destroyed his late father Seretse Khama’s legacy by dividing the BDP and using his morahe to push his agenda. “His father in his grave is not pleased with him,” he said.

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A welcome snitch

Yvonne Mooka

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CELLPHONE TRACKER: Tebogo Aaron says criminals have labelled him a snitch for helping the police track people’s stolen property

Tebogo Aaron works hand-in-hand with Botswana Police Service to track down missing and stolen cellphones.

In an interview with The Midweek Sun, the 38-year-old man from Mahalapye says that on average, he traces between 25 and 50 mobile phones per day. He runs a store called Gadgets + Collectables, with two branches in Airport Junction and Phakakane’s Acacia mall.

Even though he sells a variety of gadgets, among them cellphones, Bluetooth speakers, laptops, it is the business of cellphone tracking that has given him a niche in the market. The Business Management and IT graduate says that his cellphone tracking business makes him stand out. “We are now in the era of cellphones. Almost every person has a cellphone and again, people steal them at a high rate,” he says.

Aaron provides police with leads, allowing them to do recoveries. He helps people who come with a police affidavit. “I have attracted hate from thugs thinking I’m a snitch,” he laughs.
But how long does it take for him to track down a cellphone? He says that the gadget becomes traceable the moment a sim card gets inserted inside.

His observation is that people have a tendency of buying stolen gadgets something he says is risky as one ends up charged by the police for buying a stolen item.
“Thugs steal phones with the intention to sell them, not to keep them. They want fast cash,” he says. And he says that thieves would go to an extent of creating fake Facebook pages to sell their stolen cellphones.

“Immediately after selling them, they delete the social media accounts while the buyer is left with it. People must take precaution,” he says. One of the people who have benefited from Aaron’s service, Lerato Lepang says her phone and wallet were snatched from her on June 4 in Molepolole.

“I reported with the police. A week later I heard of Gadgets + Collectables and decided to give it a shot. I went to the store on July 13 with a police affidavit as well as my phone details.“Five days later I received a call from them saying they had details of someone who had my phone,” she says. Another person Masego Mokgwatlheng says Aaron managed to recover her phone after a month in June.

She had forgotten it in a cab and traces showed that the cab driver had sold it to a Zimbabwean man. “I am now using my phone. It was made easier because I had a police affidavit,” she says. In addition to cellphone tracking, Aaron also tracks lost or stolen pets, bicycles and luggage. He has five employees.

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Mixed reactions to Masisi’s law on home-operated businesses

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President Mokgweetsi Masisi intends to simplify the process of starting micro-businesses to make it less demanding. This entails retracting licenses for starting small businesses such as tuckshop, manicures and many others.

The Midweek Sun went out on the streets to hear views of the people about the new bill.A boutique owner based in Kanye Thapelo Dioka said it is a good initiative but he worries that Batswana will even set-up businesses which are not environmentally friendly.

“I have long struggled and been unable to rent out my spare bedrooms to try feed my family, due to stringent procedures of acquiring licenses,” said Dioka. Kolobetso Maswabi lamented that for a long time young people have been paying expensive rentals. The new law will help in starting and maintaining businesses as there will be no rentals to pay.

“For some of us who stay next to big malls the law will be an advantage, I am going to operate business in the backyard,” she says. However some had doubts about the new law, describing it as a campaign strategy and a desperate effort to gain political mileage. They will only believe it when it is signed into law.

“Why would he retract licenses when elections are about to take place and there is a need for them to explain more on what they mean about small scale businesses,” asked another entrepreneur.

Tiraone Basenyafela, an entrepreneur with disability who does leather works, lamented that they have long endured charges for licenses and at times failure to renew the licenses results in losing them.

“I believe that only big shops should be required to have licenses, not small businesses and struggling individuals like me,” said Basenyafela.

President Masisi explained that the new law intends to help Batswana improve their livelihoods and graduate from poverty, but added that licenses will still be required for those seeking to deal in food businesses and others that could be potentially unfriendly to the environment.

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