Fight for Elephants sparks “civil war” among Botswana’s elite

10 Sep 2018

As public discord over allegations of elephants killed at the country’s up-market tourism enclaves in the north reached continued to spread, its first casualties turned out to be personal friendships of the country’s political and economic elite.

The known personalities started attacking each other and also leaking information about each other’s business deals as well as accusing one another of unfairly benefitting from the country’s tourism and anti-poaching efforts.

By Friday morning key members of staff at the Department of Wildlife accused their minister of conflict of interest in the ongoing saga.

The officers told Sunday Standard that Minister Tshekedi Khama is well aware that members of his family have been middlemen in the arms sales that saw the procurement of guns by the department.

This has not sat well with other cabinet ministers, and was one of the reasons that led to Government taking back the guns from the department immediately after Tshekedi’s brother, Ian Khama stepped down as president.

“Both the minister and the former president should tell the people the truth about their interests in the arms sale to the department,” said an official who said they had been instructed not to talk to the media until after the arrival of the President who was on a visit abroad.

Minister Khama did not answer the questions by Sunday Standard after saying they should be texted to him.

Government has recently seized the assault rifles from the Department of wildlife arguing the department was not properly covered by law to carry the military grade guns.

Government argues that until a legal instrument is created, it would be improper for the department’s anti-poaching unit to carry such guns.

Arms sale was not the only outcome of the public fallout between the country’s elite.

Thea Khama who is the wife of Minister Tshekedi Khama made it known to Kitso Motshidisi that she will stop visiting his house henceforth.

A travel and outdoor enthusiast, Motshidisi is also a well-known Gaborone socialite who knows blends easily among the country’s top elite.

“I sadly will be taking leave of your home, and ever (sic) stepping foot as an unwelcome white woman,” said Thea Khama to Motshidisi on social media.

She accused Motshidisi of enjoying travelling throughout the country to tourist spots

Motshidisi’s sin, it would seem was to come to the defence of President Mokgweetsi Masisi who since the debate started has been portrayed as weak on conservation.

Motshidisi was not about to turn another cheek.

He reminded Thea that unlike other people, he has not been paid any money to look after the country’s wildlife.

“Don’t get me wrong, you know very well that I am an animal lover and unlike some people I don’t get paid for helping to protect our animals. I do it out of love for my country. How many Batswana can afford 3000USD per night lodges? At least I pull my trailer and go to those cheap Government camp sites but not everyone can do that also,” said Motshidisi.

He reminded Thea that he will not hesitate to defend the president of Botswana if he felt he was being unfairly attacked.

Taking a slight to those that had started the furore, Motshidisi hinted that it was because they were no longer getting “awards and favours anymore.”

Members of the Joubert family are some of the known people who enjoyed undue privilege during Ian Khama’s presidency, culminating with them receiving the prized presidential awards.

“I will do this even if it means you don’t come to my house anymore,” said Motshidisi.

“I am sick and tired of people who are in denial that there is racism in our tourism industry including the useless BTO [Botswana Tourism organization,” he added.