In what was supposed to be a landmark deal between the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Batawana royal, Kgosi Tawana Moremi, WeekendPost has learnt that a tide has turned after some observers informed Kgosi Tawana of an orchestrated move to solicit his support to endorse the BDP candidate for Maun West, parliamentary candidate, Reaboka Mbulawa.
According to the deal, Tawana would later on after the general elections, be handed all the concessions belonging to Batawana, back to the community. According to an anonymous source Kgosi Tawana, had sometime this year been offered the said deal, some of whose details President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi pronounced at a Maun Kgotla meeting recently. Tawana, who allegedly has vested interests in the land, is believed to have agreed in an off record agreement with high ranking officials to endorse their preferred Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate, Reaboka Mbulawa, in Maun West constituency.
The gentlemen agreed that Tawana would rather make the pronouncement at a political rally where President Masisi launched Mbulawa and his councilors. With Tawana not trusting the deal, it is alleged that the Batawana Paramount Chief remained reluctant to endorse Mbulawa, after some observers informed him that his ‘hunters’ will not keep the promise.
The observers further informed Tawana, that a plot has also been hatched with Tawana Land Board to convince Tawana, that he will indeed get Batawana land back. Tawana, was also promised a Maun Educational Park that is currently run by government. Batawana Paramount chief, Kgosi Tawana Moremi, is currently Maun West Member of Parliament, having served two terms. Tawana, has long announced that he has no intensions of coming back to parliament. With the arrival of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Dumelang Saleshando, to contest the constituency, BDP’s Mbulawa felt the heat and wants Tawana to endorse him and show him support.
According to local press, Kgosi Tawana Moremi has in the past maintained that the Chief’s Island is his personal property. He contended that it was traditionally his forefathers’ hunting ground. The Minister of Tourism at the time, Tshekedi Khama, said there was documentation to prove that Batawana gave Moremi Game Reserve-which they formed as a tribal territory in 1960-to the government.
However, Keith Diako of Batawana Advisory Committee, said that the tribe is still contesting the ownership of Moremi Game Reserve and Maun Educational Park. Tawana’s contention has been that, when all prime tourism areas in the country were taken from Tawana Landboard, a number of concessions were transferred to foreign business people without consultation with locals.
“The Landboard are administrators of the tribal land, on behalf of the people, the land does not belong to them. But certain pieces of land were transferred from Land board custody without consultation and chaos emanated from there. There was no longer accountability. A Minister appointed those he wanted to run the show and allocated the land to those he/ she wanted”, Tawana said.
Kgosi Tawana, has been at battle with government which has been simmering over for years now. At the center of controversy, is a 2014 directive by government to take Okavango Delta from Tawana Land board management and place it in the custody of Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), through a controversial initiative termed ‘The Land bank’.
The current situation is that state land is controlled by Central government, under the Ministry of Land and Housing and BTO; an arrangement which does not sit well with the Ngami-land people in general. The land belonged to the Batawana people and in 1962 Chief Moremi's wife saw that the local wildlife was being decimated by the hunters and created Moremi Game Reserve.
The Reserve covers large tracts of the central and eastern areas of the Okavango. It is dominated by Chief's Island which was the Batawana Chief's main hunting ground in historic times. The region is vast, with areas of permanent floodplains as well as drier seasonal areas. Moremi Game Reserve has a vast range of habitats which supports a great diversity of animal life; from large herds of elephants all year round to the waterways; home to numerous hippos.
Speaking to WeekendPost Kgosi Tawana Moremi denied meeting President Mokgweetsi Masisi or anyone from the BDP on the matter involving Batawana land. Tawana said President Masisi had made some remarks during a Kgotla meeting in Maun, assuring that investigations will be carried out in regard to the land in question. Kgosi Tawana Moremi also told this publication that the two parliamentary candidates in Maun West constituency have never approached him for support. “I have resigned from politics, at the moment I just want to watch from a distance,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President Dumeleng Saleshando, who is vying for the constituency, told WeekendPost that he met with Kgosi Tawana Moremi, and he told him that Masisi has asked him to help the BDP because they are in trouble. However, Saleshando said he did not know anything concerning the deal between Kgosi Tawana and President Masisi. “I cannot comment beyond that”, he said.
It is said Tawana is unsure on whether he should endorse BDP but he has told some Dikgosana in Maun that he wants to accept the ruling party deal and endorse. According to information received by this publication, Tawana has met one Kgosana and the plan is to justify the endorsement by accusing Saleshando of campaigning along tribal lines. WeekendPost received information that BDP has pledged to sponsor Tawana’s 50th birthday bash on 5 October.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.