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Gov’t forges ahead with controversial Chobe National Park developments

Hon. Phildah Kereng

The launch of the building of eight hotels inside Botswana’s first and biggest national park that was put on hold after protests is going ahead as planned. 

According to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (MENT), the lodges will be built on 22, 000 hectare of land in the Chobe National Park. Concerned tourism players are against the developments as they argue that it will negatively impact wildlife and close traditional animal, and particularly, elephant corridors.

Towards end of March 2022 the Department of Wildlife and Tourism announced the postponement of Chobe National Park Management Plan after some protests by some concerned tourism players.

Now the government is forging ahead as planned as the Ministry recently announced that a total of 220 registered participants attended the site visit and tender evaluation is still ongoing of which it is expected to be finalized by June 2022. 

“The ministry wishes to assure the public that measures will be taken to maintain the integrity of the ecological system of the park whilst ensuring great citizen empowerment and economic beneficiation through local participation in the tourism industry. This will allow Batswana to benefit from their natural resources and diversify economic beneficiation with the ultimate goal of improving their livelihood through tourism,” the press release said.

According to the Expression of Interest (EOI) to lease tourism sites in the Chobe national park for 50 years, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Section 6 (d & e) of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act (Chapter 38:01) of 1992 provides an economic opportunity for investment by individuals, companies and consortia into hospitality enterprises and related activities.

That is why the department undertook to identify eight sites for potential development into tourism enterprises within Chobe National Park which could be leased out to companies and consortiums domicile in Botswana and are 100% citizen owned,” 

Only 100% citizen-owned companies and 100% citizen-owned consortiums registered with Company Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) were invited to submit proposals for the development and operation of tourism sites for a lease period of 50 years.

Companies should have tourism licences from the Department of Tourism which have been in existence at least for the past two years and in the case of consortiums, they should have at least one company which has a tourism licence that has been in existence for the past two years or more.

“The successful bidders will be required to develop and operate a facility with a maximum of 50 rooms and a maximum of 75 beds at each site. There are eight sites available for offer, measuring three hectares each along Chobe River front in the Chobe national park, located two kilometers from each other between Ihaha wildlife camps to Kasika,” read the EOI invitation.

Bidders were expected to submit their proposals containing management plans that highlights, but not limited to bidder’s contribution to park management, proposed environmental management initiatives (protection of the park’s biodiversity), proposed water protection initiatives, clear demonstration of development plan (capital and schedule of activities for the development of the site), proposed employment creation opportunities for citizens, demonstration of value chain opportunities and proposals for corporate social responsibility.

For protection of the environment and advancement of the principal of sustainable land development applicants were to provide information on the impacts the project may have on the environment, waste management, pollutants and emissions, deforestation, human wildlife conflict, air pollution, noise pollution, mitigation measures, waste disposal, pollutants and emission and protection of workers from hazardous emission like air pollution and noise pollution.

Closing date for the submission of expression of interest was on March 21, 2022.

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Why Katholo engaged private lawyers against State

16th May 2022
Katlholo

The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.

In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.

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Dada to break Kwelagobe’s BDP long standing record

16th May 2022
Dada

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.

While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.

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The Gulaam Husain Abdoola – Dubai sting detailed

16th May 2022
Gulaam Husain Abdoola

Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.

Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.

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