In January 2014 government issued a ban on hunting of wild animal species arguing that the country is experiencing a decline of wild animals. However researchers are worried that the same policy is now defeating government efforts to decrease wildlife poaching and sensitize the public on wildlife conservation.
Two and half years on, the government decision to ban hunting continues to receive serious criticism. The decision is regarded as a retrogressive step that would reduce community buy-in to wildlife conservation and also increase wildlife poaching especially in the northern part of the country.
Relying on a report compiled by Mike Chase of Elephants without Boarders government explained that the cause of the decline of wild animal species was likely due to a combination of factors such as anthropogenic impacts, including illegal off take and habitat fragmentation or loss.
However researchers argue that increased centralization of control over wildlife management; and restrictions on the freedom of communities to derive benefits from wildlife via safari hunting is contrary to sustainable development ideas. They argue that hunting ban will not promote wildlife conservation and rural development as espoused by the country’s Community-based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM).
According to Okavango Research Institute’s Professor Joseph Mbaiwa, the social theory is that for communities to maintain a positive relationship and attitudes towards conservation, the benefits from wildlife must exceed the costs.
Mbaiwa says programmes such as CBNRM which have proven to be collapsing tried to bring communities into conservation as the idea was, “scientific research has proven that when communities benefit from the resources around them, they will be bound to conserve them,” he explained.
“In this regard the ban on safari hunting tourism has resulted in the reduction of income, losses of jobs and community projects, as such communities might not be obliged to support wildlife conservation in their areas,” warned Mbaiwa.
Mbaiwa explains that hunting ban and other initiatives are not adequate enough to promote the livelihoods of people.
Mbaiwa says during the time when CBNRM was in its good base, the livelihoods of people in its areas improved and illegal hunting went down. However according to him the ban is reported to have resulted in increased cases of poaching in the country.
Wildlife officials in Maun have also been quoted confirming that poaching incidents in some areas of Ngamiland district has increased.
According to Mbaiwa, it is from this background that any decision making on ecological issues requires proper scientific studies to be conducted before it is implemented. He is of view that proper consultation was not made with the affected communities before implementing the hunting ban.
“Detailed socio-economic and ecological studies are needed to inform decisions making especially on the ban of safari hunting,” he said.
According to reports, Kenya also banned hunting in 1997 but research shows that between 1977 and 1996, the country experienced a 40% decline in wildlife populations, both within and outside of its national parks.
The Botswana Government has been accused for lack of scientific evidence to support claims that hunting as carried out in the country is detrimental to wildlife populations. The decision to ban hunting has rather been seen as a top-down imposed decision which violated principles of CBNRM and what it stands for.
Exempt elephants, buffaloes from hunting ban
Meanwhile, Community Trusts that have been crippled by the hunting ban and have since pleaded with government to atleast exempt elephants and buffaloes from the hunting ban. A written plea has already been submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and awaiting response.
Trusts argue the same report government used to ban hunting indicates that the two species are increasing and their increase is a threat to the agriculture sector especially in the northern part of the country.
“Elephants destroy our crops while buffaloes transmit the foot and mouth disease to cattle in Ngamiland,” reads the report.
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.