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Saving Grace for African Wildlife

The 19th African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) is underway in Kasane to exchange lessons learnt, successes, failures, and most importantly, best practices so that members of the AWCF can effectively and efficiently manage their African wildlife the benefit of their communities.

This week has seen government officials stepping up and being in sync on wildlife issues after what has seemed like radio silence on the subject. On the same day, while President Masisi was delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA), Minister of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Philda Kereng, on the one hand, was halfway across the country addressing the AWCF.

When addressing the AWCF attendees, Kereng highlighted that “my country’s development agenda is guided by, among others, a long-term national vision termed “Vision 2036″. This Vision outlines the aspirations of the citizenry, having been developed through a bottom-up process. Relevant to the AWCF is the Vision 2036 pillar, which supports sustainable management of natural resources and healthy ecosystems to promote biological diversity, resilience to climate change, economic transformation, and empowerment of local communities. This demonstrates Botswana’s commitment to natural resources conservation, including wildlife. Wildlife and the wildlife economy remain strong components of the strategy to uplift Botswana’s rural communities’ livelihoods economically.”

Kereng added that “the National Anti-Poaching Strategy is expected to be finalized before 30 November 2021, to guide law enforcement interventions for the period 2021 to 2026.” This comes as a silver lining after the former President Lieutenant General Ian Khama took to social media concerning Botswana’s wildlife, saying: “the last three years has seen this ceaseless slaughter of Rhinos due to absolutely no effective interventions. Therefore, with no end in sight to this massacre, the extinction of rhinos in the Okavango is imminent. That will be the price our tourism and such iconic wildlife species will pay for indifference and with more to follow.”

When delivering the SONA, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi acknowledged that poaching is indeed a crisis stating that; “Mister Speaker, poaching remains one of the biggest threats to our biodiversity. Since April 2019, a total of one hundred (100) animals comprising different species such as; elephants, rhinos and various antelopes were poached, compared to one hundred and fifty-one (151) in 2018.”

The President continued, “another challenge is the issue of human-wildlife conflict. Our mitigation efforts include providing water to elephants and other wildlife to reduce their movements into communal areas, particularly in Nata/Gweta and North East areas. The government is also equipping new boreholes and constructing water holes in the Ngwasha area.”

On the other hand, Kereng, to enunciate on the management of elephants, revealed that; “the National Elephant Management Plan launched in April 2021 and already being implemented. An annual work plan which ends in March 2022 has been developed, covering: law enforcement capacitation; mitigation of human-elephant conflict including at least 100 km of elephant-proof fences; review of Conservation Trust Fund to increase the funding streams; and reforms to the management of the Special Elephant Quota to increase benefits derived from the elephant off-take.”

A 60-kilometre non-lethal electric fence along the western Makgadikgadi National Park boundary is also in the works and will be officially commissioned before the end of this year. The fence will reduce incidences of human-wildlife conflict in the Boteti area. Another non-lethal forty kilometres (40 km) electric fence is being constructed near Mathathane and Tsetsebjwe villages.

The AWCF was formed by a dedicated corps of African Wildlife Government officials. Religiously holding annual rotational meetings in Southern and East African countries. The AWCF was conceived in 2002 in Kasane.


BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies

21st March 2023

When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.

Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.

Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.

However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.

“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.

The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.

In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

21st March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

Merapelo Mokgosi, the Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), confirmed that he will be extradited to France, where he is wanted for his crimes.

“It is true that Tayub will be extradited to France, where he has been wanted for some time,” says Mokgosi.

She explained that the fugitive was arrested by the Botswana Police in early January while attempting to enter Botswana through the Pioneer border gate. Since his arrest, he has been appearing before the Lobatse Magistrate Court to fight his release from custody and to object to his extradition to France. During his court appearance, Tayub opted for voluntary extradition.

“He opted for voluntary extradition, which the extradition Act allows,” said Mokgosi. She added that the suspect was not under duress when he chose voluntary extradition. Soon after he made this choice, the Ministry of Justice was notified, and the minister approved his extradition. Preparations are still underway to fly the wanted man to France, and once the necessary paperwork is completed between the two nations, the suspect will be extradited.

Mokgosi indicated that plans were still being made to complete the suspect’s extradition to France, and the Botswana government would pay for his flight along with his escort.

Meanwhile, the court has ordered the Botswana Prison Services (BPS) to provide the Islamic British fugitive with “halal food” while he is in custody.

In an earlier court application, Tayub had asked to be detained at a five-star hotel, as he could pay for it until the completion of his case. He also argued that he should not have to wear a prison uniform due to the Covid-19 outbreak. He was thought to have been traveling to Malawi at the time of his capture.

When delivering the order, the principal magistrate, Gofaone Morwang, said the detainee should be provided with halal daily rations with immediate effect while he is in custody. The magistrate dismissed TAYUB’s application for hotel detention and exemption from wearing a prison uniform.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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