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Mokaila rolls back Khama era tourism policies

Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila has revealed that his ministry has cancelled the Tourism Land Bank.

Mokaila made the revelation on Thursday in Kasane when officiating during the Hotel and Tourism Association of Botswana. The tourism land bank is one of Khama era policies. In 2014, all prime tourism concession were transferred from Land Board across the country to Ministry of Lands through a ministerial directive to create what came to be known as the tourism land bank.

“A number of concession areas in Okavango Delta and Chobe were through a Government directive transferred from land boards to the Ministry of Lands and Botswana Tourism Organization without consultation with the communities and other stakeholders. Another Khama policy, the hunting ban which was also viewed as another ploy by Khama administration to create more land for his favored photographic sector may also be scrapped off, Mokaila has also revealed.

In 2014 a moratorium on trophy hunting was passed citing wildlife declines in Botswana. As per the terms of that ban, all the tourism concessions where hunting used to happen were changed in to photographic tourism to be developed in to lodges replacing the hunting safaris.  This former hunting concessions were incorporated in to the tourism land bank amid suspicions that the move was just a ploy to grab land from the hunting Safari operators and allocate it to the photographic sector.

Addressing HATAB which has never hidden its disdain for the land bank, Mokaila said his ministry is ‘not a land authority and will never be a land authority’ and has therefore decided to return the tourism lands back to the ministry of lands. Meanwhile Mokaila further suggested that the centralization of the Community Based Natural Resources Programme under Khama’s administration could be responsible for the increase in poaching in Botswana.

He opined that when communities are not getting involved in conservation, there is a propensity of them becoming engaged in poaching or colluding with the poaching syndicates. Under Khama administration community anger grew as the communities lost some of the powers they historically enjoyed since the introduction of CBNRM in 1989. Mokaila has revealed that he has since moved to restore the community faith on resources conservation.

As part of the reversal of the tourism land bank, leases for tourism concessions will be signed between the communities and tour operators. The tour operators will also directly pay lees fees to the communities unlike under the land bank arrangement where leases and payments were done between government and tour operators.

Mokaila charged that the tourism sector has grown but asked a rhetorical question for whom the growth has growth has benefited over the years. He seemed to be suggesting that the tourism growth only benefits foreign owned tourism companies while the locals wallows in poverty despite living in natural resources rich areas.

He indicated that indicators show that the tourism industry is doing well; with 4.7% contribution to GDP, 19 000 people employed, annual growth of about 2.7% and 1.9 million arrivals every year as per the 2016 statistics. To increase citizens’ participation and generally multiply benefits, Mokaila said that the Tourism Policies will be reviewed and fine turned to promote citizens active participation. Some of the changes include the development of the CBNRM Act and development of the tourism master plan and development strategy.

Another accusation which has been thrown to the Khama administration has been his favoritism for the wildlife based tourism where he has interests over other tourism sectors such as heritage and cultural tourism which could benefit Batswana in general. HATAB outgoing chairman, Dr Thapelo Matsheka ha challenged government to diversify Botswana’s tourism product from wildlife. He stated that places like Lobatse and others across Botswana have abundant heritage tourism that’s needs to be tapped on.

Matsheka also cautioned against monopoly in the wildlife based tourism sector explaining that the incidence where just a few companies control the tourism market in Botswana is not good for the growth of the sector. Dr Matsheka further reiterated that tourism growth has to be balanced with economic upliftment of the resident communities. He stated that places like Maun have potential that needs to be developed in line with empowering Batswana in the tourism sector. “Maun is a destination not a gateway to the Okavango Delta ‘he said.

Meanwhile HATAB turned 35 years of existence this year and the association has made a vow to continue advocating for better conditions in the tourism sector for its members. HATAB Chief Executive Officer Lily Rakorong appointment of substantive CEO at Botswana Tourism Organization, Myra Sekgororoane, the suspension of the tourism development levy, the lifting of development moratorium in Kasane Development and resuscitation of Kasane- Kazungula plan.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

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The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
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The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

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The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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