Monday, November 29, 2021

Government “Trojan horse” in the CKGR exposed

Government has set up a Community Trust  as a Trojan Horse to infiltrate and control Basarwa of Central Kgalagadi game Reserve (CKGR), sources close to the Trust have revealed.

The Trust believed to be a subterfuge into the Basarwa community is however being rejected by Basarwa leaders inside the Game Reserve.

Documents passed to the Sunday Standard show that despite protest from Basarwa, government has assembled officials from the department of wildlife and Ghanzi District to form a trust.

A copy of the Deeds of the Trust document which was leaked to Sunday Standard does not mention its Chairperson by name.  It however states that “acting in his capacity as the Chairperson of MEMOGHAMOGU COMMUNIUTY TRUST, he being duly authorised thereto by virtue of a resolution of the Board of trustees of the said MEMOGHAMOGU COMMUNITY TRUST, passed at Molapo on the 20th Day of July 2017.”

Asked to explain why the Deeds of Trust document does not disclose the name of the Chairperson, Attorney Lawrence Lecha of Lecha and Associates who prepared the document on behalf of the trust, said the name appeared in the resolution of the board document which did not form part of the Deeds of Trust document that was leaked to Sunday Standard.

The Deeds of Trust document states that the trust shall be established through authority of the Botswana Government “herewith referenced as the Founder, Grantor or Settler to allow residents of Central Kalahari Game Reserve to sustainably utilise natural resources found in area GH12” for their benefit. The settlements that are to benefit from the Trust are Metsiamanong, Mothomelo, Gope, Molapo and Gugama inside CKGR.

The office of the Trust shall be at Gantsi town in Ghanzi District. The document states further that “Upon amendment of this Deeds of Trust a new board of trustees shall be elected by the beneficiaries to start a new two year (2) term of office.”

The objective of the trust among others is to protect and monitor the use of natural resources against any misuse, extinction or any irreversible damage to the identified areas within GH12 (inside CKGR). It also aimed at devising good, sound management practices and tools amongst developed and operating community projects to ensure their sustainability.

The Deeds of Trust document states that in the event that beneficiaries fail to elect or appoint a Board of Trustees as contemplated at 4.1 due to reasons know to the grantor (Government), such community shall relinquish its powers to grantor to appoint a board in respect of the Trust.

“All individuals wishing to be elected to the board should be adequately literate. The trust will also act as a lobby group, organise campaigns educational programs awards, public awareness or competitions, issue press releases and take other steps to promote public awareness of the Trust, its objectives and activities.

While Basarwa had expressed concern that they have no Kgosi inside CKGR, the Deeds of Trust document states that one of the Ex-Officio members “shall be the Kgosi.”

The Board, may with approval of a majority of the General Members facilitate the establishment and development of regulations or sanctions governing management and utilisation of natural resources by the Trust and individual members within areas.

The trust will have at its disposal, powers to control and manage Basarwa’s way of life.

“The Board of Trustees shall establish and develop Resource Governance regulations as determined by the beneficiary or the grantor for any resources over which the Trust has been granted rights of utilisation,” states the Deeds of Trust document.

Basarwa have since written to the Ghanzi District Commissioner Loeto Porati denouncing the Trust. 

In a letter dated 30th June 2017, Basarwa sought explanation from Porati on where government got the mandate to set up the trust. They reminded Porati that they had taken government to court challenging the legality of their relocation from CKGR and the court ruled in their favour. They added that since the court had declared that government was not obliged to provide services inside the reserve, the establishment of the trust was violation of the court judgment. Basarwa further notified Porati that should government go ahead and force the trust down their throats they would have no option but to seek redress from the courts again. Basarwa also denounced their former leader Roy Sesana saying he was not the right person to represent them since he was now a civil servant.

Replying, Porati stated that the Council provides services on behalf of Government. He said the government does not impose a trust on communities but instead shows them the importance of community trusts. Porati said if community shows interest in the establishment of a trust the government assist them financially adding that that was the case with the trust for CKGR. But if residents have no interest, he insisted that there is no way the government can set up a trust. Porati also informed CKGR resident that it was within their rights to seek redress from the court but added that should residents heed advice from the authorities their concerns would be addressed.  

He also informed them that members a committee that was in negotiation with the government were chosen by residents of CKGR to represent them. On the issue of Bogosi, Porati said his office did not have a satisfactory answer to the issues they raised because the relevant authorities had not stated if there were Dikgosi in CKGR.

Basarwa activist Jumanda Gakelebone said he was no aware that the trust had been set up. He said they were not consulted when the idea to set up the trust was mooted. 

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