International Environmental Non- Governmental Organizations have put pressure on President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to abandon reintroducing the hunting of elephants.
The letter dated 13 March and signed by 28 different worlds environmental NGOs has apparently been submitted to the Office of the President. The letter was signed by Iris Ho, Senior Specialist, Wildlife Programs and Policy, Humane Society International. The letter states that: “The undersigned organizations representing millions of members and supporters around the world sincerely and humbly request that you do not reinstate trophy hunting and that you also do not allow regular elephant culling.”
The letter continues: “In recent years Botswana has been hailed as a shining example of wildlife conservation, and a safe haven for elephants, who are free from harassment by trophy hunters and where poaching is relatively low.” It further says: “Nonetheless, we are saddened by reports from the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephant Programme under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that have pointed to an uptick in poaching in Southern Africa.
“In particular, Chobe National Park has experienced an increase in elephant poaching, according to the most recent Mike Chase report. We also acknowledge your concern about the prevalence of human-elephant conflict in Botswana “letter says. However, the letter states that trophy hunting and elephant culling do not deter poaching, nor do they resolve the human-elephant conflict. A successful elephant management plan should be science-based and sustainable in order to promote the long-term peaceful co-existence between humans and animals.
The letter also argues that In fact, trophy hunting is harmful to wildlife conservation. Trophy hunters tend to target prime age breeding males, the killing of whom disrupts the social structure and causes cascading negative impacts on populations, such as increased infanticide that results from the removal of dominant male lions and leopards.
Mokaila- ‘ we will not back off’’
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Kitso Mokaila has revealed that Botswana will not back off from its decision on hunting. Mokaila was speaking during a ceremony organized by Cresta Hotels in Gaborone on Tuesday to welcome him back to the ministry. Mokaila said: ” We will not back off and change our minds in terms of what we are going to do. As HATAB you must remember where your bread is buttered and support us.”
Mokaila further explained that President Mokgweetsi Masisi will soon call an elephant summit in Kasane to be attended by members of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Park to discuss ways of controlling the marauding elephants. Mokaila explained that the summit is one of Presidents Masisi strategies to find a solution to the problems posed by elephants in Botswana and the region. KAZA, is a regional initiative meant to promote the free cross-border movement and conservation of wildlife in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola.
KAZA is viewed by conservationists as a solution to the elephant numbers in Botswana. Botswana has of late faced a storm of international condemnation after it announced plans to return trophy hunting. Some international conservationists have lambasted President Masisi for using the elephant issue to win elections and stage managing support.
Ngamiland communities support Government on Hunting
Community-Based Organization (CBO) as represented by Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NCONGO) have meanwhile appreciated the handing over of the Hunting Ban Consultative President Masisi by the cabinet sub-committee led by Minister Hon. Frans Van Der Westhuizen. The letter issued by NCONGO Chief Executive Officer Siyoka Simasuku reveals that CBOs support the recommendations by the Cabinet Sub-committee that conservation Hunting should be re-introduced in Botswana.
It says the re-introduction of hunting will go a long way in alleviating rural poverty by re-introducing tourism benefits lost in 2014 when the hunting moratorium was initiated. They say hunting will also mitigate against human-wildlife conflicts especially crop damage, livestock predation and the destruction of property, especially by elephants. Elephants are causing deaths to our people and have injured many. As a result, the hunting of elephants will result in these animals relocating from human settlements to far away protected areas where they are meant to live.
The communication says the CBO calls for the strengthening of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme in Botswana. “It is our strongest belief that the CBNRM programme is one approach that can result in meaningful tourism benefits to communities.
The letter further says: “as communities, we do not take kindly to those who are attacking our Government and all initiatives meant to re-introduce hunting and uplift our livelihoods and reduce human-wildlife conflicts in our local areas .it further posits that it is believed that Botswana is a sovereign state and we have a right to discuss and decide on issues which directly affect our livelihoods and well-being. This is said in reference to the elephant distribution and populations which are threatening food security and lives in our local areas.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.