Minister of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism Tshekedi Khama has confirmed to WeekendPost that the government has imposed a 12 month fishing ban at both Lake Ngami and Lake Xau. The decision has left communities fuming.
The 1st of March 2015 was to mark the opening of another fishing season at Lake Ngami after the practice was suspended for a three months period since December 31st 2014. Four days before the fishing season commence, the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism issued a directive extending the fishing ban period.
In September last year there were similar reports from MWET that Khama had ordered a directive for the closure of Lake Ngami. The reports caused panic at the Maun Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) as they could not explain where the order came from when the public insisted on knowing. But the decision was eventually reverted as the department and the Khama himself refuted any knowledge of the directive.
But today Khama has boldly come out to take charge and full ownership of the directive. In an interview Khama explained that the decision comes after the DWNP had difficulty with controlling the situation at the lake, which he explains as “out of hand”.
The Minister said that what started as domestic fishing by locals was now out of control due to mass influx of people who wanted to benefit by using the lake for commercial fishing.
After Lake Ngami started flowing in 2007 there was a rapid increase in commercial fishing. The commercial practice then attracted foreigners from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the two countries have a high demand for fish. The aroused market then resulted in influx of illegal fish traders at Lake Ngami.
According to Khama this then lead to an increased number of applications for licensed fishing at the lake. In 2012 DWNP took a decision to cease new license applications to control the situation, but this resulted in a high number of illegal fishing, with the numbers continuing to rise daily.
Tshekedi explained that people started to forge the fishing licenses through photocopying them without their knowledge. He explained that in their inspections they also discovered that those who were licensed to operate were no longer following the regulations prescribed under the licenses.
Khama underscored that the rate at which fish resources were removed from the lake in large quantities raised a lot of concern to government. He emphasized that the lake has not fully recovered, hence the decision to suspend fishing for another 12 months.
Caught in the cross fire of illegal licenses was the Maun regional DWNP Head official responsible for awarding licenses who Khama said had been redeployed.
“I summoned him to my office in Gaborone recently for questioning. But when I asked him about the illegalities in awarding of the licenses his response was not satisfactory. So the decision was taken to remove him from that department,” explained Khama.
Khama regretted that the influx of foreigners led to Batswana being sidelined and not benefiting from the lake as they were being exploited. He further observed that foreigners benefited more from commercial fishing at Lake Ngami than Batswana.
Another issue raised by the minister as reason for the closure of the lake is bad environmental impact that extensive fishing had brought to the lake. He complained that the lake was now in a very bad condition and was also a health hazard for people. He said that there was lack of hygiene at the lake which is a cause for concern as the place is littered and without ablutions despite the large number of people who were operating there.
Maun Regional DWNP Officials said the government has now resolved that Lake Ngami Trust be given full responsibility to manage operations at the Lake and also uphold its management plan that was drafted in 2013. The trust is expected to be leased the Lake Ngami area soon by the Tawana Land Board. It is said that the suspended period will give the trust enough time to prepare for the next season. The trust proposed building hostels with ablutions to accommodate the fishermen. There will also be an export permit and amendment of trade price that will control the trade of fish in and outside the country.
However the decision has caused uproar to Batawana tribe who are mostly fishermen benefiting from commercial fishing at Lake Ngami. The fishermen are angered by the decision and have threatened the Regional Officials of DWNP that come Sunday (1st of March) they will be at the lake to commence their fishing season.
A heated controversial Kgotla meeting in Maun which had attracted throngs of the affected fishermen from areas such as Bothatogo, Sehitwa, Bodibeng, Kareng and Toteng was held this Thursday.
Lake Ngami Fishing Association Chairman, Loago Mokanki complained that MWET has failed to consult them about the decision. He explained that they learned about fishing ban from hearsay four days before the season started. He explained that they could not refuse the government decision but they should have been consulted well on time.
Mokanki has also demanded that the DWNP who announced the ban, to provide them with signed documents from the ministry as proof of the directive. However the Regional Deputy Director of Maun DWNP, Amos Ramokate also cleared his name and explained that his office received only a verbal directive from the permanent secretaryin the Minister of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism. Ramokate who had no answers to most of the questions from the public explained he will forward to his superiors to submit written documents.
Lake Ngami Fishing Association Chairman explained their reason for demanding a written document, that if the government does not want to listen to them they will take the matter to the courts.
Mokanki explained that they will resort to legal action if the government fails to hold dialogue with to them.
“Now we already have made debts as we purchased fishing materials (boats and nets) and this is very expensive materials so how will we repay them back. The money we get from fishing is the one that we hope to clear these debts and cover other living needs.”
The Chief Representative, Charles Letsholathebe who had the final say also turned down the regional DWNP officials who he said will not be able to answer concerns from the affected people. Letsholathebe added that Minister Tshekedi Khama and his permanent secretary are the appropriate people to come and address them.
Letsholathebe said that it was clear that the government wanted to rob Batawana their assets in Ngamiland so they should come themselves to address them and not send their juniors.
“Moremi Game Reserve and Maun Educational Park have been taken away from us and we were not consulted now the same thing is about to happen with Lake Ngami, no,” lamented Letsholathebe.
A squabble has broken out between Pule Mosala Funeral Parlour and the Botswana Police Service (BPS) over the remains of a South African national who has been in the Mosala mortuary for more than nineteen months. The deceased was one of 10 suspects who were controversially shot dead during a lengthy shootout with law enforcement authorities in Gaborone’s Phase 2 early last year.
The deceased individual’s family based in Soweto, has encountered difficulties in repatriating the body which has been in the care of Mosala Mortuary Services. Following the incident, it has emerged that all 10 bodies were transported to PFG mortuary in Lobatse for a brief period while the police attempted to locate their next of kin. Â It is reported that the families of the deceased were eventually identified and informed to come and identify their loved ones, including other South African nationals who were part of the criminal group. These families also witnessed the autopsy procedures conducted at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone.
Except for the family from Soweto, nine of the bodies were claimed and taken by their separate relatives. The Soweto family claims they lack the resources to bring the body back to South Africa and has made it known that they are looking for money. To end the supposed verbal agreement over the body’s storage for repatriation, Mosala Funeral Service has filed a case against the police atÂ the Lobatse High Court.
According to Keakantse Mmotlhana, the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager, 10 people who were killed in Phase 2 by gunfire were all temporarily transferred to one of PFG’s branches in Lobatse by the police while efforts were made to find their next of kin. She expressed outrage at the statement made by the Minister of Defense and Security, recently.
After Assistant Police Commissioner Dipheko Motube called her office to apologize for giving the Minister wrong information during a news conference, she confirmed that they had accepted the apologies. He made it clear that one of the victims was still at Pule Mortuary in Lobatse.
Bushie Mosala, the director and owner of Mosala Funeral Services, confirmed that the body of a South African national has been in his mortuary for the past nineteen months. He expressed his desire for the police to remove the corpse from the mortuary, characterising the situation as a “nightmare.” He has instructed his legal team to file a lawsuit against the police in the Lobatse High Court concerning the body.
Mosala urged the acting Police Commissioner to come forward and apologize to the nation for the situation, asserting that the public has the right to know the truth regarding the body of the South African national, w
C -002Bhich was preserved by the police as evidence.
The South African High Commission in Gaborone had not responded to queries from Weekend Post at the time going of going to press.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) has expressed alarm over a troubling trend by the government. Tobokani Rari, Secretary General of the BOSETU, stated that it appears that these days, whenever there is a dispute between workers and the government, the administration is fast to run to the courts to attempt and muffle unions.
â€śThis is quite disturbing development, we have seen it with the Botswana Doctors Union, there was a disagreement over the shift allowance, government rushed to court, they indeed got order that was saying the doctors should go and do the work. We have seen it with the nurses, they rushed to court they got the order, we are now seeing it with the teachers, they rushed to the court and they got what they wanted,â€ť said Rari, who also served as the Secretary General of BOFEPUSU.
Rari raised concerns that the governmentâ€™s enforcement of teacherâ€™s work, through a court order will result in reduced classroom productivity and morale. Rari added that this situation would negatively impact labour relations and teachers emotional wellbeing due to dissatisfaction in their work places leading to persistently poor academic outcomes.
â€śYou can get an order that forces people to work, but what happens at work, it heightens emotions, it destroys relationships and the morale goes down and productivity does. Courts and judgments donâ€™t solve productivity issues. Productivity only comes when people are satisfied at the workplace, so if you force them to work through a court order then you may not get the maximum out of the working population,â€ť said Rari
MESD vs BOSETU COURT CASE
â€śAs you are aware, the Ministry of Education approached courts and they were demanding three things from the court in this case between BOSETU and the ministry. First, they were demanding that the joint letter that was written by BOSETU and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) asking members to stop doing course work because there was no agreement be declared unlawfully and BOSETU should write to its members and withdraw that letter within 24hrs. The second thing that they were looking for, was to interdict BOSETU from further issuing any instructions to that effect going forward. Lastly was that court should hold BOSETU to pay the cost of the lawsuit on a punitive scale,â€ť Rari said.
Rari stated that the court decided to rule in favour of the Ministry of Education on all three relieves sought, that the savingram should be declared unlawful, that BOSETU should withdraw the contents savingram within 24hrs.
Court also said BOSETU should not issue any of such instructions going forward up until the case of contempt that BOSETU has taken to court, the contempt of the 2009 judgment has been decided. Court also awarded cost to the ministry on a punitive scale.
â€śBOSETU is a law abiding citizen and therefore we are bound by any laws and judgments that are there in Botswana and arise on the courts of Botswana hence we have complied with the order. On the 31st after the court case, we wrote to all our members and told them that the contents of that savingram as far as coursework is concerned has been withdrawn,â€ť said Rari.
Rari said what happened in this case is that the judge decided to listen to the urgency without the responding affidavits of the opposing party, BOSETU, and went on to rule the merit of the case, which surprised the union.
â€śHowever we have been in discussion with our lawyers because if we leave things like this, we feel like we cannot leave that unchallenged. We have taken a decision to appeal the judgment,â€ť Rari confirmed.
2023 COURSEWORK AND INVIGILATION AGREEMENT
â€śWe would like to make our members aware that the following day after the judgment, we were able to meet the Ministry of Education and we have arrived at a conclusion that we signed an agreement that coursework rates will be increased by 5%. If court had ruled that coursework is the duty of the teachersâ€™ means it wouldnâ€™t have been any agreement after the court case, it tells you that the issue is still open and it is on the table. We have arrived at an agreement that there is going to be an increment on all components of coursework and invigilation,â€ť Rari pointed out.
Rari further explained that Article 2 says union party is to submit detailed proposals on the intensity of the coursework for further engagement. Intensity of coursework means where the coursework payment starts in terms of varying from different subjects. He said the outcome based subject that are taught Maun Senior Secondary School and Moeng college which are agriculture and hotel and tourism is that ministry have agreed and acknowledgeÂ that there are some peculiarity in their coursework andÂ Â therefore should be paid in line with the peculiarities that are contained in their coursework.
Rari pointed out the resolutions taken at the conference where the issue of application of corporal punishment was addressed. Â â€śBOSETU will issue out a memo to their members to advise them that they should not apply corporal punishment, they should leave it to be applied in line with the Education Act.â€ť
The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) which had struck a deal with the Ministry of Education to supply some schools in the northern part of the country is counting losses as mass migration of buffalos jeopardize the Commissionâ€™s plans.Â
Information reaching this publication shows that the beef exporter was recently given the greenlight to supply government schools with beef. According to documents seen by this publication, as a result BMC had scheduled to buy and collect cattle in the Nata-Gweta and Boteti constituencies from 11 to 17 September.
This was after BMC and the Ministry of Education struck a deal for the former to supply government schools with beef. Letters exchanged between Ministry officials state that it has been recommended to the ministry to support BMC by allowing it to supply schools with beef products.
The Ministry indicated that it was aware that some schools have contracts that are currently running with suppliers such as local butcheries.
The Ministry revealed that at the same time BMC has 256 tins of frozen quality meat at its Maun Plant.
The Ministry requested the Director-Regional Operations to appoint an officer to manage the procurement of meat for schools that do not currently have running contracts. The Ministry further stated that Modalities of collection will be arranged between the region and the schools identified.
According to the Ministry, a list of schools including the condition of their cold rooms and their number of deliveries and kilograms per week they buy should be compiled. The Ministry also requested its officials to share the list with headquarters and the acting director-Basic Education, and engage BMC accordingly to procure.
But this plan ran into trouble after it emerged that between 300 to 500 buffalos migrated from the buffalo fence area to Nata, Dukwi and Mosetse areas.
The Department of Veterinary Services sprang into acting by revising movement protocol for cloven-hoofed animals with immediate effect following buffalo sightings in zone 3b which covers Nata/Sowa, zone 3c which is around the Dukwi areas as well as zone 6a, which covers the Mosetse area, which fall under zones, 3b, 3c, 5,6a and 8.
The Department of Veterinary Services indicated that as a result, movement of live cloven-hoofed animals and their products out of zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a and 8 were prohibited and that movement of live cloven-hoofed animals within and into these zones is only allowed for direct slaughter at licensed slaughter facilities under veterinary movement permit issued through BAITS.
The department also indicated that the movement of fresh products derived from cloven-hoofed animals such as raw milk, skins and fresh meat into these zones is also only allowed under a similar arrangement.
Movement of live cloven-hoofed animals into these zones for rearing and other purposes will not be allowed, and farmers and the general public is requested to continue being vigilant and report any buffalo sightings to the nearest veterinary office, the police or the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the department said.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that following the press release on prohibition of movement of live cloven-hooved animals and their products in and out of Zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a & 8, the acting Minister of Agriculture Karabo Gare, his counterpart Acting Minister of Environment, Wildlife &Â Tourism Mabuse Pule, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Joshua Moloi, Director of Veterinary Services Dr Kefentse Motshegwa and other government officials visited the areas of Sepako and Dukwi respectively on a mission to consult with communities regarding the invasion of the places by buffalos.
Minister Gare alluded that they have been sent by the President of Botswana, who is equally worried by the current situation. He noted that the affected areas have a total of around 300000 cattle and if the situation goes unchecked, there might be detrimental effects on the economy of this country.
He encouraged the communities to help government going forward by reporting any spotted buffalos in their areas, emphasizing that buffalos are dangerous and can kill people and that care should be exercised at all times.
The Director of Veterinary Services mentioned that they closed the above mentioned zones to allow for testing of buffalos & cattle for foot & mouth disease. The wildlife department’s Director Mr. Moremi Batshabang assured farmers and the community that they will eliminate small clusters of buffalos found within communities and translocate larger clusters to ensure their safety.