Items filtered by date: Monday, 20 May 2019 - Botswana Guardian

Any dialogue on human-wildlife conflict, especially elephants-human conflict cannot bear any positive results if the affected communities who encounter the wrath of these jumbos on a daily basis are not part of decision making. Residents in areas where these animals roam around feel that those who engage in such dialogue without engaging them would just be out on holiday.

If it was according to their will the residents say they could have long poisoned water holes in the area to eliminate elephants. Onkatsitswe Sedimo resides in Lesoma Village about 20KM from Kasane, the tourism area where Kasane Summit 2019 was held early this month.He commutes to Kasane on a daily basis to work. On the night of the interview with this publication he was travelling at sunset to Kasane to do some grocery shopping. Even by the the bus stop Sedimo ensures he is in an area where he could see any of the wildlife from a distance.

They have come to live with the situation but got worried when he sees a group of journalists who seem to be reckless with their surroundings.He explains that life for them is hell. They cannot just travel as they wish at night because that could be the end of someone’s life. Even some children in Lesoma Village travel between 500metres and 1KM to school in a dense forest.

He revealed that due to the increase of elephant population in their area there is competition for space. The elephants, movement would be because of water and other climate change conditions. Sedimo explained that many lose their homes while others fall victim and become disabled after their encounter with elephants, hippos and buffaloes. Even during the day everyone has to be looking over their shoulders as anything can happen.

He is however surprised that right in the middle of Kasane experts and government officials from five countries that make up Kavango Zambezi Transfontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) have gathered to discuss how to deal with the situation that has been tormenting them for years now. He is of the view that what is happening is just talk and no implementation that will benefit the communities.Sankuyo Tshwaragano Trust representative Mischief Puo said the summit cannot talk about the elephants far away from them. He stated that culling or reducing the number of elephants is more practical to deal with elephant management.

He pointed out that communities must be made part of the management strategy for sustainable use of resources.“We need positive incentive packages for the community. Involvement of communities is very minimal. We must make informed decisions, which is why we also need proper statistics. “I support the lifting of the hunting ban. We need sustainable development for the benefit of the elephants and the communities,” he stated.Experts however believe that a compromise can be reached where elephants and humans can co-exist. Tom Milliken pointed out that the animals can be preserved and at the same time have the community benefit.

He is of the view that Asia presents a lucrative market hence elephants have been a target for ivory trading. He said China more especially has been a market for ivory for years. He however said the country should be commended for cracking on notorious syndicates that deal in illegal ivory trade. According to Milliken there are also people from Africa who illegally transport ivory by concealing it in clothes.Member of Parliament for Okavango Bagalatia Arone said when dealing with the Botswana situation experts must avoid looking at countries far away. He said whether there is a market or not is not an issue but the issues are “our people are losing their lives. People are losing their livestock and crops.”

According to the MP (whose constituency is affected by a high number of elephant population and elephants-human conflict) there is need to talk about sustainable ways of dealing with the situation at hand. Arone revealed that if hunting should be brought back so be it. The MP who is also Minister of Basic Education was also part of the Presidential Task Team that was appointed to consult Batswana on the hunting ban. According to Arone, having been born and bred in an area of these flora and fauna there is no need for him to have studied animals to know what has to be done. He said experts should not impose their findings on the communities. “I grew up in the Delta and there is no need to have findings imposed on us. The experts need to come to us and dialogue with people with indigenous knowledge to understand our situation.

“You cannot have a balance when the population of elephants is that much. We want to get rid of the old ones which are even not productive so that we help the little ones to get vegetation,” argued Arone. According to Holly Dublin whether the countries are far or not, whatever happens will impact on the African elephant. She explained that indeed there is need for sustainable ways of dealing with the matter where both elephants and humans will benefit. She stated that there is an opportunity for co-existence in the KAZA area.

“We have to develop co-existence landscape where elephants thrive and people thrive. There are some positive things for KAZA. There is massive infrastructure plans for this area and we need to think as to how the duo can live alongside each other. “KAZA is rich in land and water. There are traders and there is no how we can leave the issue and not talk about it. Trophy hunting is not going to reduce the numbers, we need development scenarios that are workable,” she said.Professor Joseph Mbaiwa from the Okavango Research Institute said there is an escalation of elephants’ population. He said the other contributing factor to the increase is the 2014 hunting ban. The professor stated that the experience has been that there has been damage to crops, livestock, boreholes and killing of people by elephants.

According to Prof Mbaiwa this has been happening in the past five years. He explained that benefits for communities in the affected areas have been low. “There has been negative attitude by communities towards elephants. If there is negative attitude that is not good and there will never be participation in terms of conservation by the communities. “In terms of Community Based Natural Resources Management, only Namibia is doing good in the KAZA area. We want communities to participate. Why could we not have communities form partnerships where they can package their products and services and ensure communities benefit meaningfully,” wondered Prof Mbaiwa.

Southern Africa is home to the largest number of elephants on the continent, with 75 percent of the elephants found within the KAZA TFCA. The estimated number of elephants in areas surveyed in the last ten years in Southern Africa is 293, 447.Elephant numbers in Southern Africa have declined by almost 30, 000 on the basis of updated estimates contained in the 2016 African Elephant Status Report.

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Monday, 20 May 2019 11:05

Former MPs condemn Khama

Former Members of Parliament have blasted former head of state Dr. Ian Khama accusing him of dividing the nation. The former MPs made a resolution during their Annual General Meeting on the 11th of this month during The Association of Former Members of the Botswana Parliament to condemn Dr Khama.

According to the former MPs there is national instability and anxiety created by the Former President emanating from his unfounded appeal for sympathy from across the nation. “We observe with regret that his sympathy seeking antics are fast turning into promotion of regionalism and tribalism. “Our collective view is that the Former President’s actions and utterances are uncalled for and must be rejected by all those who live in this beautiful country if we are to preserve our national peace and tranquility that we have enjoyed over the years and have become the envy of many a nation,” the MPs said.

The association was established on the 24th September 2018 under Section 6 (1) of the Registration of Societies Regulations of the Societies Act. It is a non-profit making and independent organisation whose membership is drawn from former members of the Botswana Parliament from various political parties. According to the association what Dr Khama is doing presents grave risk to the stability of the nation and its core values and principles. 

The Association further called upon the Former President to desist from his divisive gatherings and statements and play his role as a statesman who has enjoyed the support and recognition of Batswana during his term of office. “Our plea is informed by the diligent job our other former Presidents did in their retirement. They did not only subordinate themselves and allowed space for their successors to run the affairs of the nation but also became ambassadors of Botswana across the globe through their noble peace-making efforts.

“We believe this immediate past Former President must do the same,” argues the association. The former MPs are further disturbed by the level of corruption which they say happened in the past ten (10) years. Dr Khama was the president of the country in the past ten (10) years.

The Association says like the nation at large it is alarmed by the high levels of corruption in the economy that is being reported in the media. Incidences of corruption according to the former MPs seems to have literally spiraled out of control during the past ten years.
“To this end, we call upon Batswana to embrace the fight against corruption in all its forms across the economy”.

The Association says its objectives are among others, to provide collective opinions or pronouncements on matters of national interest and importance and to advise Government, the nation at large or any other institution on any matter that may be within its competence. 

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Less than 900 000 people have registered for this year’s general elections in spite of efforts by stakeholders especially the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and political parties to mobilise at least 80 percent of the potential voters to register.

IEC Principal Public Relations Officer, Osupile Maroba is not satisfied with the figure. “We cannot really say we are happy with the figure,” said Maroba in an interview. Voter apathy is a concern to those who believe that representatives are under pressure to perform when they are elected by a large number of people.According to the Voter Apathy Report commissioned by the IEC and conducted by the Democracy Research Project (DRP) of the University of Botswana (UB) after the 1999 general elections, some of the respondents cited government corruption for their disillusionment with elections.

They were also not attracted to the opposition because the main opposition is underperforming hence not ready to form a government. The electorate who were interviewed also felt the opposition parties must unite. Some people do not vote because they lack political education. For example, an electorate may stay home because he feels that his vote does not matter. However, with some voter education the electorate will know that some wards or parliamentary seats have been decided by small margins. They could be casting the deciding vote!

Due to lack of political and civic education, some people do not vote because the person they voted for last time has not done them personal favours such as giving them a ride or even money. Voter apathy studies indicate that some people do not register to vote because of long queues and they hate waiting. In some jurisdictions, employers are required by law to give employees a break to register as well as to vote if they cannot partake in the process inside the hours of work.

Politicians are also accused of lacking the sophistication to market themselves properly. For example, they are accused of, among other things, using abusive language at rallies, addressing rallies in the English language, distorting facts and generally engaging in petty as opposed to issue based politics. When the campaign becomes rather vitriolic, people become cynical. Some voters are on record saying that they did

not see the need to register because some of their leaders were controversial and lacking in integrity. Strict election procedures such as the cut-off date for registration may deny some people the opportunity to register and vote. There have been suggestions that online registration should be allowed. It has also been suggested that people should be able to register for the election even on election-day when the hype is at its highest level.  The chairman of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Communications Committee, Kagelelo Kentse, explained that as a stakeholder, the BDP mobilised voters to register for elections through rallies. 

“We deployed vehicles to take people to the registration centres. We also did social media campaigns,” he said. UDC Head of Communications, Moeti Mohwasa, who feels there should be a second supplementary registration because of the low numbers of those who have registered, said that the UDC did its best to get people to register for the elections.

“For example, when our aircraft was down, our president was traversing the country to mobilise them to register. The other difficulty is that we do not have enough resources to get people to polling stations to register. “That is partly why there should be political funding,” said Mohwasa who emphasised the importance of a high turn-up of voters. “A good turn-up gives the winner legitimacy,” he added. 

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Suspended Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) President Masego Mogwera will know her fate as chairperson and member of Board of Babereki Investments (Pty) Ltd Directors next week Thursday.

Mogwera, together with three other Board members; Martin Gabobakwe, Tlhabologo Galekhutle and Otto Itumeleng were recently dismissed from the Board of Babereki Investments (BI). BI is an investment arm of BOPEU. Mogwera and team then took acting president, Olefile Monakwe to court seeking nullification of their removal from the Board. Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetwe of Lobatse High Court this week indicated that he would deliver final determination on the matter on the 23rd of May 2019 following the interim interdict order he made last week.

Justice Ketlogetswe last week issued an interim interdict in favour of Mogwera and team and directed that the decision and or communication by Monakwe seeking to dismiss or dis-appoint Mogwera and fellow applicants as members of the Board of Directors, was unlawful and set aside.This week attorney Gabriel Kanjabanga appearing on behalf of Monakwe told the court that Mogwera and team have no authority to have brought the case before court on behalf of BI. He said the applicants admit that at the time of bringing the case to court they were not board directors of BI and cannot act on behalf of BI which is cited as 1st Applicant in the case.

“If they agree that at the material time they were not board members then they cannot purport to be acting on behalf of BI. The resolution they purport to have signed on behalf of the 1st Applicant (BI) is therefore invalid. “The court should find that at the time the resolution was made, they were not competent to be acting for BI. They misled the court to issue an order that they represent BI,” said Kanjabanga adding that BI is not properly before court because Mogwera and co-directors have no authority. He argued that most of the averments are based on BI and not on other Applicants.

Dutch Leburu representing Mogwera and her team argued that his clients acted on behalf of BI because they were unlawfully removed. He said they were competent enough to have made and signed the resolution as per the Companies Act and the Trade Unions and Employers Organisation Act provisions. According to Leburu, BI is properly before court. “The directors should have been removed at a shareholders meeting and not a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. “The shareholders meeting is convened by the board but the meeting that fired the directors was not purported to have been called by the board. The Chairperson of BI, that is, Mogwera was to chair the

meeting but there is no evidence that she did chair the meeting,” he said.Kanjabanga argued that there are no facts produced to indicate what harm other Applicants would suffer other than BI if the case is heard through normal cause and not brought through urgency. He said they are only protecting their own personal interests. “Why should the court hold that the case is urgent in relation to them if they failed to prove on what basis they bring the case on urgency?

“They do not have a legal right. There is also an issue of joinder- they failed to join BOPEU in the proceedings since BOPEU is a shareholder,” he told the court arguing that Monakwe took the decision to suspend Mogwera and team on behalf of BOPEU through an instruction from the NEC of BOPEU.

Leburu argued that Mogwera and other directors were not acting to protect their own interests. He said they were protecting the interest of BI and its shareholders. “There is nothing about urgency for personal gain. They do not do that for personal interest but for the company and its creditors. We are therefore entitled to the confirmation of the interim interdict that this court issued,” argued Leburu.

He explained that 80 percent of documentation that has been filed with the court by the Respondents is unnecessary adding that the case of urgency and interdict have been made by his clients and should succeed.According to Kanjabanga there was no need for the Applicants to have been part of the meeting that suspended them. This, Kanjabanga said, is because they are not shareholders of BI. “The majority of the NEC members were there and they took a unanimous decision to remove the Applicants. There was compliance in terms of the law in the removal of the Applicants,” he said.

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