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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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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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