BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma has called on the international community to sit back and allow Batswana to manage elephants and wildlife the way they know best, and rather focus their energy on their own domestic issues.
Speaking in Parliament this week Moyo Guma said he could not understand why the international community think they are better placed to educate Batswana on how they should manage their own affairs with regard to wildlife management.
“Do you understand the pain that we live in here, staying with elephants?” Moyo Guma asked rhetorically. He said inviting them into Botswana as tourists does not give them the right to dictate how Batswana should manage wildlife.
“When I invite you to my house, I did not say you should come and cook for yourself,” he said.
Minister of Immigration Dorcas Makgato had also raised her concern about the international community’s apparent disregard for human life when it comes to issues of human, wildlife conflict.
“Sometimes when I am listening to these debates internationally, I do not see the element of human suffering and human life. I see them crying about elephants, but I do not see them talking about the number of people that have been attacked in the international space, because this now moves beyond our borders,” Makgato said.
Moyo Guma said people in the affected areas were constantly being killed by wild animals especially elephants.
“At night you cannot even move around your house. You cannot leave Matsilojwe. This one is very painful. We should not be divided on this matter. The international community must actually appreciate that we are not saying we do not want to co-exist with wildlife, no, that is not our aim. We are saying, can the government manage them. If they cross the area where they are not supposed to be, we should actually shoot them.”
Member of Parliament for Bonnington North Duma Boko pinned the blame for the international community’s sense of entitlement on Guma’s Government itself. “On this issue of the international community, are they not your customers whom you go out there to attract so that they come and view the wildlife, and you make a bit of money from them? If the customer tells you, ‘I want to see the following,’ and you have given the customer the power and the expectation to dictate those terms to you as Government, does it lie in your mouth to now come and complain and start blaming the customer? Should you not address your own issues without blaming the external tourists who come? Should that not be the case?” Boko asked to which Guma responded that his (Guma) sentiment is that wildlife should be confined to the wildlife areas. He said the moment it crosses to the other area where people live is where Batswana have a problem.
“We will not have a problem when they go to the game reserves and live there. No one bothers them there. Do you want now to tell me that the international community can go and view elephants in Broadhurst (Gaborone)?”
Guma said the population of elephants is too much and as a result they have gone into areas they are not supposed to be. What the government needs to do, Guma advised, is confine them where they are supposed to be. “Manage them; if they get to be overpopulated, reduce them. You cannot have a million elephants. Otherwise everyone should be given their own elephant to take care of. The truth of the matter is our country is too small for the current elephant population.” Guma raised the issue recently when responding to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).