The MP for Maun East Konstantinos Markus has launched a scathing attack on the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama for abusing his power as the minister. The attack comes hardly some weeks after the ministry banned dry fish exportation for 12 month with immediate effect. Markus lambasted Khama for using his power as minister to unnecessarily suspend the dried fish exportation without consulting key stakeholders such as fishermen and Lake Ngami Conservation Trust. He said the decision by Khama to ban dried fish export has affected hundreds of fishermen, especially those who were fishing at Lake Ngami. “I’m totally frustrated by what the minister did. How can you ban dried fish while you know that it affects many livelihoods here in Ngamiland, a lot of fishermen were depending on these dried fish,” fumed Markus. Markus added that “even if you have the power as a minister you don’t do that and take the decision that will affect any ordinary citizens’ lives without consulting them. This is not right at all,” Markus lambasted angrily. Markus decried that even though he is a member of the ruling party he doesn’t like what the minister has done by punishing ordinary citizens. The minister allegedly banned dried fish export because he suspected that there was overfishing at Lake Ngami so he wanted a study to be done first to determine how much fish is left. “If the ministry wanted to conduct a study why then ban dried fish export that everyone has been depending on? How do you stop those who have piles of fish to export?” Markus hit out.
He said the study will take a long time to complete and it is not even clear who is going to conduct a study between the ministry and the Lake Ngami conservation Trust. He said the minister has promised to meet all relevant stakeholders such as Lake Ngami Trust, fishermen association and others to address the matter but it has been weeks without any response from the ministry. Lake Ngami Conservation General Manager Galefele Maokeng recently complained that the ban had an impact on livelihoods, as the Ngamiland is a district beset with lack of economic opportunities and high poverty levels. Maokeng indicated that fishing has just established itself as the best in accessibility and rewards livelihood activity that locals can engage in. “The coming in place of our Trust has just unlocked this opportunity, which had hitherto been set back by disorderliness and lack of control,” he said, adding that in two months of fishing season they have placed P160, 000 directly in the hands and pockets of local people through the sale of dried fish to the export market. He added that a third of these fishermen are beneficiaries of government poverty eradication scheme. “The ban is taking all this from the people immediately,” he regretted.