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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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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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