Recognition of “minority tribes” has become a political and election campaign hot potato in the North West District where many feel that certain sections of the country’s constitution are discriminatory.
This past Sunday in Thamalakane West, Maun at an Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) rally, the topic of recognition of minority tribes was brought up much to the ululation of many.
Speaking at the rally, Okavango Parliamentary candidate, Cater Hikuama challenged President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who ascended to power last year April, to focus his attention in repealing discriminatory laws such as section 77,78 and 79 of the constitution, which refers to eight Tswana speaking tribes as major, and none Setswana speaking tribes as minor as well as the tribal territories Act, if he wants to bring any positive reforms to this country.
“What we know is that politicians bring change by way of changing laws and policies. There is a big law which promotes tribalism in this country. I am one of the people who do not want to be looked down upon or despised, that is why I expect Masisi to rectify these kinds of flaws,” Hikuama pointed out.
Accusing Masisi of habouring tribalistic sentiments Hikuama said, that the president said there was a particular tribe that thinks it is superior than others.
“Where was he trying to direct us? What was he insinuating and what was he trying to teach us? He is not only the BDP leader, but a state president, so he should not allow his party’s factional fights to make him lose focus!,” he charged
In a follow-up interview Hikuama further suggested that the people were not comfortable with the tribal territory Act, which he argued subjected other tribes to a beggar status in their own country.
“My view is that since we are a republic compromising of different tribes, there is no need to describe people according to tribes. That promotes the existing feel of entitlement by certain tribes, who in turn feel we are their subjects and therefore they can do as they please and disregard our views.” Hikuama noted.
In her briefing, titled,“Minority Tribes In Botswana: the Politics of Recognition”, Professor Lydia Nyathi Ramahobo (now Saleshando) who is from the North West region, has maintained that sectiions 77, 78 and 79 “did nothing to end discrimination.
“Membership remains subject to a tree tie system consisting of the chief of the eight areas belonging to the Tswana tribes and of the four former Crown lands, five persons appointed by the President, and a maximum of twenty people selected by regional electoral colleges, who serve for five terms each,” she stated.