BY ARNOLD LETSHOLO
The Ministry of Environment has embarked on a process to develop Management plans for concession areas, NG 19 Khwai, NG 41 Mababe and communal area of NG12, in a bid to ensure that citizens participate in the lucrative industry.
In emphasizing the importance of reviving Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) and increased participation of communities, Minister Kitso Mokaila said the need for management plan as a controlling measure cannot be overemphasized especially in conflict prone areas.
“The management plans are now at draft plan stage and currently undergoing stakeholder consultation. We regret the objection raised by the Khwai Development Trust (KDT) who opines that they are the rightful entity to develop management plan for NG19 owing to position they hold on ownership of the concession” said Mokaila.
“We wish to advise that notwithstanding who owns the concession, a management plan is a tool that governs all stakeholders regardless of their status in the concession,” said Mokaila. The minister added that the management for NG12 and 41 are without any objection and will be concluded soon and used to guide management and developments going forward.
He said there has been a moratorium on tourism licenses for NG 19 and 41. The ministry is currently undertaking a management plan for NG 41 and 19 which would determine the tourism potential and limits of the concessions. Once the management plans have been completed, the ministry will review the moratorium.
Furthermore, Mokaila reiterated that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has emphasized that opportunities should be created for Batswana to participate in the tourism industry.
The ministry has thus far identified new tourism sites in Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and within high value tourism areas of Ngamiland to be allocated to citizens and citizen owned enterprises.
“The ministry through the Tourism cluster is working on identifying possible entry points within the tourism value chain where Batswana can participate in the tourism either as suppliers or contractors as it will not be possible to have everyone running a tourism enterprise,” he said.
He cautioned that there is concern over people who sell their pieces of land to foreigners and these people in turn run operations on land that could otherwise be used by Batswana. It is important to note that plots in areas such as Khwai are in high demand because of their proximity to high value tourism areas of Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park.
Mokaila emphasized that the ministry would like community trusts to address such issues as poor governance and mismanagement of funds. He said as the government continues on its commitment to support CBOs to improve their proects and programs, it is important that trusts also improve their governance matters.
“Over the years there have been an ongoing problem of maladministration and mismanagement of funds by some CBOs which had led to the use of Holding Accounts. The use of holding accounts was a temporary measure meant to protect public resources against abuse.”
“There is need for the CBOs to take responsibility and come up with ways of curbing mismanagement of funds. It is important to note that community trusts hold money on behalf of the public and the government has the responsibility to intervene to protect the public’s interest when necessary,” he said.
He advised that trusts that are in Lease Agreements with private operators must adhere to the terms of the lease and allow the operations to go without hindrance. He also cautioned against entering into business agreements with third parties without engaging with the ministry; which he said had a bearing on the management of the concession areas.
This, he said had the possibility of exposing the Trusts to litigation as some of the agreements can be in conflict with the terms of lease agreements. He highlighted that communities that are in multi use concession areas such as Khwai in NG 19 have to acknowledge that they are not owners of the concession as they have been allocated NG 18. Therefore the Ministry has the responsibility to ensure that all operators in NG 19 including the Khwai community adhere to the law.