Member of Parliament (MP) for Chobe, Machana Shamukuni, says that natives of Kasane do not have a share of the wealth of their land. He said that the employment opportunities are nothing to write home about and they cannot utilise their land to benefit economically like foreigners operating facilities in the area.
He decried that Kasane, although celebrated as Botswana’s tourism hub, is off limits for locals and is accessible only to the rich elite and foreigners with bag loads of money. “First of all, the lodges here are so expensive and not within the budgetary brackets of the average Motswana. It is difficult for Batswana to go on holidays to these establishments because they cannot afford them,” he said in an interview.
Shamukani noted that the Delta is not even a consideration for many Batswana, who admire it from a distance, as they cannot afford to travel there. “Instead, many locals prefer to visit facilities in Namibia and South Africa, which offer cheaper rates,” he said. The MP, a Botswana Democratic Party member, said it was high time that government investigated this issue, suggesting that a dual price should be introduced for the benefit of locals. In terms of business ownership, he said organisations like CEDA have opened branches in the area to assist locals start businesses.
A specially-elected Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor, Paul Chabaesele echoed the MP’s sentiments. He noted that although some locals have gained employment, it is difficult for others to break into the tourism industry and operate their own facilities.
“Despite the fact that organisations like LEA are trying to assist locals, they are still failing to keep pace with the more elite established enterprises,” he said. Chabaesele also argued in an interview with this publication that locals are not in a position to explore their own country because the rates of the facilities are too deep for their pockets. “Government should step in and regulate the prices,” he said.
The councillor noted that it costs an arm and a leg for a family to holiday in Kasane. “If you add costs for transport, lodgings, food and recreational activities it’s a high cost,” he said.
However, Kasane Central Chief, Tshegofatso Samoka sang a different tune. He insisted that many Batswana own flourishing lodges in the area, while others operate thriving travel agencies. He als
o stressed that the many employment opportunities in the tourism industry had kept a lot of young people in Kasane off the streets.