Tshekedi assures villagers that Khama not up to mischief
The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama has defended President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s direct involvement on tourism issues, including his interest in the Gcwihaba caves. The Minister told residents that the President is not intending any ‘mischief’.
Some sceptical observers are of the view that the President’s involvement at the popular Ngamiland District’s Gcwihaba caves stems for his personal interest in the area. But it is clear from Minister Tshekedi Khama’s address to Xai Xai residents that President Khama is genuine in his involvement.
Khama has been at the centre of almost every activity taking place at the caves and Weekendpost can reveal that he enjoys frequent consultations and briefings on the developments taking place at the caves, and most of the hours he donations to the area are done in personal capacity.
Tshekedi Khama urged the villagers to disregard reports that Khama may be up to some mischief. The same was echoed by the area Member of Parliament, Thato Kwerepe who also had an opportunity to speak at the event. Also present was the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng.
Gcwihaba and Waduum caves are widely known as national monuments administered by the Botswana National Museum and protected by the revised Monuments and Relics Act of 2001.
This week, Khama officially opened the tourism facilities at Gcwihaba National Monument, at the invitation of the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. The Village councillor, Lelejwang Sokwe also announced that they had wanted President Khama to officially open the facilities because he has been key in pushing for the development.
Some observers argue that the President should be given an opportunity to develop the caves and monitor their developments for effectiveness and efficiency. They say with his a strong hand behind it; the cave may transform the lives of people around the area in a short space of time.
The facilities include a gatehouse with ablution block constructed by Xai Xai community in partnership with Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism through Ipelegeng Programme; campsites built by the Botswana Tourism Organisation; borehole provided by De Wet Drilling; and concession boreholes provided by the United Nations Development Programme – Global Environmental facility.
KHAMA EXPLAINED WADUUM CAVE SITUATION Recently some of the Xai Xai villagers had expressed reservations over the President’s frequent visits to some caves, such as the Waduum Cave. The same cave has not been accessible to the public but only to Khama. But given an opportunity to explain the scenario, President Khama said Waduum cave needs special skills for one to enter and has a big dangerous snake inside.
Khama explained that he has taken over the keys and the control of the Waduum cave as it is dangerous and risky. “There is a big snake there, you need to be accompanied by army officers to go inside and there are high chances of coming out from there lifeless. When we go inside we use army tactics like crawling and so forth, and when you meet the snake you should know what to do,” he said.
When asked about the keys to the Waduum caves by Batawana recently, Khama responded:
“The only keys I have in my possession are for the Waduum Cave not Gcwihaba. Waduum is special as opposed to Gcwihaba which is now dilapidated and untidy. I first got engaged with the Waduum cave around 1995 when I was still in the army after been engaged by some whites who discovered it.”
MULTIMILLION PULA LODGE This publication learns that a big lodge is to be built near the caves. The owners of the lodge are however not yet known. The village councillor, Sokwe said it is true that there has been such a proposal. “The authorities together with the Trust are of the view that it would provide the necessary shelter for the tourists and improve the profits,” he said. Sokwe could not share the timeframes of the project implementation.
The government says the aim of providing the facilities is to empower Xai Xai Tlhabologo Community Trust to implement tourism activities in and around Gcwihaba National Monument area as well as to enhance the diversification of tourism products in Ngamiland.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.