'Wilderness Safaris, Khama ties suspicious'

SHARE   |   Monday, 23 May 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
Tshekedi Khama Tshekedi Khama

MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane has questioned the business dealings between President Ian Khama, his brother Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT)Tshekedi Khama and tourism giants Wilderness Safaris. Speaking at the Public Account Committee (PAC) hearing on Friday Moswaane accused the Khamas of being conflicted because most tourism concessions are tailor made for Wilderness Safaris, a company which President Khama has business interest in. Moswaane, who is never shy to speak his mind,  said the relationship points to conflict of interest. “Batswana out there are complaining that Wilderness Safaris seem to be controlling the tourism sector and this is compounded by the fact that the Minister in charge has interest in it,” hit out the dramatic legislator, even suggesting that Tshekedi was appointed minister of tourism to protect the Khama family interests.

Moswaane complained that the leadership of the country is deeply conflicted in the tourism sector and questioned if it is right Tshekedi Khama to be in charge of the ministry where his brother has business interests. PAC chairperson, Abram Kesupile, had to rescue the Khamas and Wilderness Safaris from the Moswaane onslaught when he advised the latter not to deviate from what was presented before the committee by the accounting officer from the ministry. Kesupile  said it is not right for Moswaane to discuss the relationship between Wilderness Safaris and the Khamas as it was not part of the presentation by MEWT. Permanent Secretary in the MEWT, Elias Magosi, said in response that there are laws which guide against conflict of interest and that the Competition Authority is there to ensure that one company does not control one sector of the economy alone.

On the fishing moratorium imposed on Lake Ngami by MEWT, Moswaane who was in his element said that the reason there is ban is because it does not involve the whites. “You have not done any studies to check if there is danger to the fishing in Lake Ngami yet you went ahead with the ban. I know that this was done because there were no whites involved in the sector,” hit out Moswaane. Another member of the PAC Paulson Majaha expressed disappointment with the ministry’s treatment of people who live next to wildlife animals.“You have failed to address kgotla meetings and some of us have given up on you guys hence we call other ministers to address our communities,” said the disappointed Majaha.

In an interview after the presentation, Tshekedi Khama said since he was appointed the minister he has not given any concession to his brothers. “No member of my family has been given any concession since I became the cabinet minister and I am not saying they won’t be awarded in the future or not but I have never used my office to favour my family if it is what he is saying,” said Khama. Tshekedi said he has no interest in Wilderness Safaris as he has no shares in it. President Khama is a Director in a Kasane based tourism company called Baobab Safari Lodge which is part of Wilderness Safaris. He also holds 5% stake in Linyanti Investments, another subsidiary of Wilderness Holdings Limited.