The founder of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Gilson Saleshando, says Ngamiland lacks true leaders that could represent the community well. The veteran politician, who has since resigned from politics and is now focusing on community projects, said it is a pity that a rich district like Ngamiland lacks good leaders. Saleshando – a member of North West Integrated Farmers Association (NWIFA) – said Ngamiland is the second of the poorest district in the country after Kgalagadi while it is rich in natural resources. Saleshando said tourism in Ngamiland is the second contributors in the GDP of the economy. “What a paradox! Ngamiland is rich and its people are poor,” he rhetorically stated. He said the two opposing features in the region of being rich in natural resources and having the poorest people in the country is due to lack of good leaders who can represent the interest of their communities. Saleshando said Ngamiland people are not empowered as compared to other regions such as central. He said people in other regions are empowered and know what is going on in their region. “People in this region are not empowered as compared to other places such as Serowe. A lot of them know what is going on in their region but here there is nothing,” he said, adding that – “You can see that even when they attend meetings and comment their comments do not hold water as it shows that they are not informed on what they are talking about”. He said dikgosi in Ngamiland did not empower their communities as compared to others in other regions. He added that Kgosi Tshekedi Khama of Bangwato and Kgosi Bathoen of Bangwaketsi played a critical role in empowering their regions. He said Bathoen and Tshekedi Khama were visionary learners who wanted the best for their communities while in Ngamiland while there were few schools and a lot of children missed the opportunity to go to school. “There was a lot of illiteracy in the region because there were few schools,” he said.
Saleshando stressed that another contributing factor was the brain drain as children who went to school from this region never came back to contribute in developing the region as they neglected Ngamiland and stayed in other regions. “Here Bogosi contributed a little in empowering the community,” he said, adding that he is not belittling the Bogosi but they have not done enough to empower their community. Another setback for Ngamiland, according to Saleshando, is the participation of the community in the natural endowment – tourism. He said a lot of restrictions and laws deny the community from utilising their natural resources, citing the banning of fishing, hunting and even grass cutting. “These unilateral bans by the government have contributed to the poor state of this region,” hit out Saleshando. He also stressed human wildlife conflicts had contributed to the high poverty in the district as elephants destroy their crops. He said the culling of cattle in 1994 by Masire‘s government was a way of destroying livestock farming to pave a way for the tourism industry. He said culling affected the Ngamiland economy as by then 86 percent of the population depended on livestock farming. Saleshando said after restocking Ngamiland farmers were also hit by a recurring problem of outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. He blamed the government have failing Ngamiland by not providing enough budget to control FMD. “The buffalo fence has collapsed and the government is not doing enough,” he said. Saleshando urged Ngamiland leaders to wake up and fight for their region because it has a lot of potential.