The Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ anti-poaching measures have once again come under heavy scrutiny after an unprecedented 11 rhinos were killed in just 11 months. A response from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism to an inquiry by this publication suggests that rhino poaching numbers have been increasing in the last 11 months.
Two carcasses which were discovered at Mombo Island between Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th this week brings to a total 11 rhinos which were killed in the last 11 months after the new administration resorted on disarmament of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Anti- Poaching Unit, a move which led to increased cases of poaching especially on elephants. A close source revealed to WeekendPost that during Khama’s administration only one rhino was killed in 10 years.
A system known as the Rhino Safe Track System was used by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to ensure the safety of rhinos. This was referenced to former President Ian Khama’s interest in the tourism industry, which he gave first priority. However, this week the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said they have not abandoned the rhino safe track system but could not divulge any more information on the matter.
Government could also not comment on Mike Chase’s report saying they are still studying the report. Chase made damning revelations against government anti-poaching measures when it was reported that about 90 elephants were killed in just few months following the disarmament of the Wildlife department following President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decree. The matter made international headlines, putting Botswana on the spotlight, with her conservation record also put to question.
During a media tour organized by government to clarify the matter reported, there were allegations that government maybe deliberately under reporting the extent of poaching in Botswana for the fear of affecting the local tourism sector. Heralded as a conservation success story, Botswana has in recent years received rhino donations from the Republic of South Africa where rhinos were killed in large numbers by poachers. But of late there is an apparent fear that given the lax in anti- poaching operations in Botswana, the country is following in to the footsteps of South Africa.
One of the discoveries made by Mike Dr Chase and his team, in the study concluded last year October has been the big numbers of poached elephants in the Khwai area. “Elephant poaching has been ongoing for more than two years. From the carcasses we have seen today it is clear that poachers take out elephants of all ages. It’s serious but no one is doing anything about this growing problem which will affect the local tourism sector,” the report indicated.
Elephants Without Borders, a conservation group, said results from an ongoing elephant census in Botswana indicate poaching has surged. The spike coincided with the disarming of anti- poaching units, the group said. Masisi, who took office last year, said weapons were withdrawn from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in line with legislation that bars the department from being armed.
An official previously specified that the weapons in question are for military use, further elaborating that the department does retain any firearms. And all security agencies have been involved in anti- poaching operations since the 1980s, according to the government. Accustomed to international praise for conservation efforts, Botswana has come under scrutiny from groups such as PETA that suggest an outcry over the weapons issue could hurt wildlife tourism here.
WeekendPost understands that currently the bulk of anti- poaching operations are undertaken by Botswana Defence Force in Ngamiland. However, the BDF is also said to be thin on the ground due to limited resources. Information reaching this publication suggest that when the NG 32 rhino was killed some of the BDF anti-poaching officers based in Ngamiland were still engaged in Gantsi area where three other rhinos were killed in private properties this year for their horns.
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.