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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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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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