The decision by Government to build an international horse track in Palapye instead of Maun has sparked outrage from Ngamiland community and horse race enthusiasts. The district leadership, such as Batawana royals and North West District Councillors, has also expressed dissatisfaction by the govt to take such decision. The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Thapelo Olopeng had posted on his Facebook page that Government will consider to build the track in Palapye after being given land there. Minister Olopeng said they couldn’t build an international track in Maun because the plot there is a private property. He, however, encouraged the district leadership to consult the owner and negotiate with him. The Councillor for Bojanala ward, Luke Motlaleselelo, has dismissed Olopeng’s reasoning. “Olopeng is an influential minister and he has all the power to negotiate land with the owner. What prevented him from doing that?” questioned Motlaleselelo. “The government should have complemented what Mascom has already done because Mascom has set the foundation for horse racing in Maun,” charged the councillor.
Motlaleselelo said in the past 10 years the Mascom derby has attracted thousands of people to Maun and this has benefited the local economy and contributed to the growth of tourism since Maun is the tourist capital. “When people come for Mascom derby they use the opportunity to visit Moremi Game Reserve and other Safari camps to explore the beauty of the natural resources,” he said. The deputy paramount chief of Batawana Kgosi Dithapo said he does not think that the track will benefit Palapye as it used to benefit Ngamiland community. A horse owner, who has been participating in the Mascom derby for years, Sakhie Nguvauva said as horse owners they have been surprised and shocked by government’s decision to build a track at Palapye. “Government must have protected our culture because we have been doing horse racing for a long time and this is something that we love. We have many horses in this region than anywhere in the country,” fumed Nguvauva. Nguvauva accused government of taking key developments to the south of the country. He also indicated that Mascom derby was benefiting the local economy. “We used to survive through fishing; government has taken that from us by banning fishing at Lake Ngami. Our mine DML, which is in Toteng, has collapsed. We are not selling cattle due to FMD but now the government is trying to take something which we were making a living through,” he regretted.