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Mokaila dragged into tourism wars

Former Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila is accused of pulling to a different direction against President Mokgweetsi Masisi, this in the latter’s vision to see the locals leasing and operating the remaining limited concessions.

Mokaila was at the forefront of Masisi’s idea to have citizens operating the concessions in a bid to have the locals enjoying a fair share of wealth in the lucrative tourism industry. Mokaila, was a Specially Elected Member of Parliament from 2014-19 and was not re-nominated after last year’s elections. A number of concerned businessmen in the tourism sector are chronicling how the former Minister is lobbying for a South Africa’s Johan Calitz of Johan Calitz Safaris to lease a Mababe Concession (NG 41).

The area has elephants, buffaloes, leopards and plains game. Not only those, but there are other species like baboons, elands, impalas and kudus. Calitz Safaris is already advertising the packages to tourists as far as America. Mokaila is on record saying the local operators are still toddlers and as such should partner with the seasoned international companies if they are to enter the tourism industry.


“I have been clear about that, this is for them to gain experience and build connections that will allow them to sustain themselves because after all we want the locals to end up owning businesses in this industry.” Calitz is said to have operated the same concession 20 years ago as a community partner, this was until government imposed a hunting ban which prompted him to look for greener pastures in other countries. This publication’s informants say his lease was to be terminated in 2017, but was extended by the Ministry. “But it officially expired last year July,” says a source who adds that, “Now all the interested parties should submit their bids for consideration.”

This it is said to have rubbed the Mababe Community and the traditional leadership the wrong way, as they do not want anything to do with Calitz. A meeting was held last week (15th- 16th January) where they are said to have taken a resolution that they would want to partner with Calitz as Mababe Trust is now on P3.6 million. “The anger from the community is because they feel he has used their resources back then but never made any developments in the area and now they want a new face,” a source from Mababe told this publication on Tuesday this week.

In an interview this week Mokaila said Mababe trust poached him to convince Calitz since they knew each other. “I was approached by the board (Mababe) to link them up with Calitz,” he said on Thursday morning. “And on Monday I met with the board and asked if they have been given blessings by Morafe, because these concessions should be community centric and there are regulations to that effect.”

The local tourism business owners are livid about the engagement of a foreigner, “using the influence of the former Minister is frustrating what President Masisi subscribe to the locals to enter the market,” one furious entrepreneur said. The businessmen are hell-bent that they will do everything at their disposal to ensure that they stop the ‘rot’.

It is said Calitz is marketing the packages though he has not signed lease agreement with Mababe Trust. According to the packages of Calitz Safaris -seen by this publication- shows that indeed it is a money spinning industry. With $70 000.00 license one will get 14 days of hunting an elephant with a trophy of up to 59.4lbs and ivory weight of the heaviest tusk. If not shot, the client may return in the same year at a minimum daily rate, time slot permitting or alternatively may choose to take a refund of $10,000.

There is another 14 day package for elephants and buffalo which goes for $85 000.00. Another one for leopards and plains game is sold at $57 000.00. Buffalo license is being sold for $37 500.00 while cheapest package is for $24 500.00. Mababe Development Trust disowns Johan Calitz . Mababe Zokotsama Community Development Trust (MZCDT) has denied claims that it has allocated its hunting quota to Johan Calitz Safaris.

This follows an Annual General Meeting held by the community trust in Mababe from Wednesday to Thursday (15-16th). The meeting was characterised by feud within the community with section of the community blaming the current Board of a plot to grant the quota to Calitz Safaris without following proper tendering processes. This came after revelations surfaced that Calitz Safaris was already marketing MZCDT quota to hunters during the Dallas Safari Club convention held in Dallas, Texas from January 9-12.

MZCDT chairperson Itumeleng Mogodu refused to share details pertaining to the recent AGM. Mababe Kgosi, Montle Kebualemang, who is part of MZCDT board on ex-officio basis, confirmed the Calitz rumours but distanced the trust from any dealing with the trust. “Yes I can confirm those allegations but the board has made it clear that it has no dealing with Calitz Safaris.

He explained that the AGM came as part of process for the trust to begin hunting after they were allocated a hunting quota by the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism comprising of about 20 elephants and other game.   “The ministry is yet to allocate a directors hunting permit to allow us to hunt.  They (government) requested MZCDT to avail audited accounts of the trust before the permit is granted hence this AGM was called.

Kebualemnag explained that a section of the Technical Advisory Committee, a government committee which advises the trusts wanted to know what the relationship of the trust with Johan Calitz after it emerged Calitz was already marketing their quota?
No one had answers and at the end the AGM resolved that an expression of interest for the MZCBT quota will be issued in due course to open it for all the bidders. 

What does it take to lease a concession?

For one to end up winning the lease of the concessions, it is said the community together with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) vet all the submitted bids and look at which one is more compliant with Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). This is done in presence of the adjudicating panel inclusive of BTO and Wildlife officials who then also give CBNRM focused presentation a go ahead. Okavango and Chobe concessions are regarded as prime and every interested party is scrambling for those. There are other concession across the country that are not attracting much interest.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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