Batawana issue hot potato

SHARE   |   Monday, 30 November 2015   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
Batawana issue hot potato

There was drama in Parliament on Friday after the acting Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Dikgang Makgalemele, read a statement regarding last week’s insinuation by Maun West MP Tawana Moremi that Government hates Batawana.

Makgalemele wanted to rebut the story that appeared in this publication. Moremi had accused government of hating the North West people, saying it was denying them developments and has taken away their tourist land.

As he was reading his statement in which he accused the paper of trying to turn back the clock with what amount to calls for the privatisation of the shared assets, the MP for Okavango Bagalatia Aarone shot the statement down.

“Yes, you hate people of North West, Okavango and Boteti because level of poverty is tantamount to hatred,” hit out Aarone, adding that people of Boteti where diamonds are mined have never seen a diamond let alone benefitted from them as their area is one of the most underdeveloped.

Driving his point home, the outspoken Okavango MP said the education level in all the three areas, which are backbone of Botswana’s economy through tourism and mining, is substandard.
He asked Makgalemele if he knew that Lake Ngami has been earmarked as part of land bank without consulting the people of Ngamiland, to which the acting Minister answered in the affirmative.
Opposition chief whip Wynter Mmolotsi asked Makgalemele why government chose to respond to Tawana’s response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) through a minister’s statement instead of waiting for the Leader of the House to do so during his response to SONA.

Makgalemele, who was at pains to explain himself, said that they wanted to set the record straight regarding the development in the Ngami areas especially the ownership of Moremi Wildlife Reserve which he said government through presidential directive terminated its management by Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland.

In response Tawana asked if the minister is aware that there is a court order that clearly states that presidential directives are not laws and can be repealed. There was near fracas between the Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi and Tawana who wanted to be given a chance to respond to Makgalemele’s accusation as he felt that it has misinformed the parliament but Molatlhegi had none of it.

Tawana, whose voice was now shaking and was pointing finger at Molatlhegi accused the deputy speaker of having an interest of misleading the house by refusing to adhere to standing order 52.
Mmolotsi asked Makgalemele why government chose The Patriot on Sunday headline while there are other headlines which accused some people of refusing with keys to Xwihaba caves.
To show that government cares about the people of Ngamiland Makgalemele said that in the current financial year the recurrent expenditures by the North West District Council total over P352.7 million, noting that the figures hardly reflect a government that is indifferent to the wellbeing of its citizens in the North West.

The Member of Parliament for Boteti East Sethomo Kelatisitswe, who in his past deliberations in parliament complained that Boteti is one of the most undeveloped areas in Botswana while being the hub of diamond mining, walked out after deputy speaker Molatlhegi ordered him to sit down. Efforts by Molatlhegi to call him back into parliament as the house didn’t form quorum hit a snag as he ignored his call. In an interview, Tawana said that if it is true government does not hate Batawana they must honour the invitation and address the morafe.

“People in Ngamiland have long asked government to come and address them regarding their grievances to no avail and this is a sign that they hate us,” said Tawana. He said that Ngamiland is the second poorest area in Botswana after Kgalagadi and government is doing nothing to help its occupants.