President Masisi’s promise to empower Batswana to be the main players in the lucrative multimillion pula tourism industry is yet to be achieved despite making numerous promises when he ascended the office in April 2018.
Botswana Guiding Association (BOGA) have joined complaints that there are lot of contradictions in what the President is preaching and some policies in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism which disempower Batswana to benefit from the industry. BOGA established in 1999 as a platform for professional guides and small safari operators to express their concerns and needs regarding the tourism industry. It is also a networking and advisory organization that focuses particularly on the growth and development of tourism.
This week BOGA threatened to drag the Ministry of Environment to court to force the lift of the moratorium that prevents new mobile operators to enter the Northern parks which contains of prime areas such as Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe.
In an interview, the chairman of BOGA Kenson Kgaga said that the association has reached a conclusion to engage the government in a legal route after all the efforts proved to be been unsuccessful. Kgaga says that he meet the Minister of Environment after he has been reappointed into the Ministry this year in January and asked him to lift the moratorium nationally. He added that Mokaila assured BOGA that their matter will be resolved soon but months have passed without any action.
He further stated following with fallout with the Mokaila, BOGA attempted to meet with President Mokgweetsi Masisi to present their concerns but their efforts hit a snag. Kgaga says that the response from the Office of President was not convincing as they were told to meet Mokaila again. “There was no way we can meet Mokaila again as he promised to resolve our matter but never fulfilled it”, he says Kgaga said that members unanimously agreed to take the Ministry to court to rescind the decision.
The tour operators also accuse Masisi‘s administration of failing to lift the moratorium which is just a simple task but he chooses to lift the hunting ban and now he is at throat with international communities. They are also of the view that the only part in the tourism where Batswana have hope is in the mobile safaris as they had been denied chances to own concessions and camps.
Mobile operators argues most of foreigners owns and operate multimillions concessions in the luxurious Okavango Delta are the ones who are trying to block the group of indigenous Batswana who want to venture into the tourism industry but influencing the government tops official to take such decision as they fear competitions from locals.
They also charged that international clients and agents want to see the Okavango Delta, Chobe and Moremi Game Reserve but the moratorium only wants them to the southern parks which is opposite of the market. The also added that when BTO goes international to market they sell the Okavango Delta, Moremi , Savuti and Chobe but new mobile operators are only allowed to go the southern parks.
In another case, The Basarwa community at Khwai and Mababe has threatened to take the government to court over the moratorium on the on the allocation of residential plots, change of land use for tourism enterprises and transfers of land which has been imposed since 2014.
The councillor for Khwai/Mababe, Kebareeditse Ntsogotho decried that the moratorium have affected them as they are in a Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as they cannot plough or rear livestock because of human wildlife conflicts. He stated that the only way the community can benefits is through tourism enterprises by changing their land into camp sites, lodges and guest house but the land board is refusing.
“This is a blow for us as a community because we cannot do anything apart from the tourism business,” he decried
The outspoken councilor accused the government of double standard as he stated that the same government has allowed some white owned companies to build and change land in Khwai/Mababe while black people have been denied the opportunity. Ntsogotho also stated that when President Masisi was addressing a kgotla meeting in Maun last year promised that he want Batswana to benefit from tourism but now it’s seems like it was a wishful thinking as government policies contradicts with what Masisi want to achieve.