President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) grand charade was this week tottering on the brink of collapse as Basarwa leader Roy Sesana is now refusing to play along.
Sesana whose part in the Khama CKGR charm offensive had touched off a backlash from his CKGR tribesmen seem to be trying to extricate himself from the government campaign. Sesana recently stuck out his middle finger at an offer by government to be transported from the CKGR to Gantsi village to receive his salary.
Khama has been masterminding a campaign to win the heart and minds of CKGR residents. Government drafted Sesana into the government payroll as a partner in the hearts and mind campaign. The strategy seemed to be working until Sesana travelled from CKGR to Gaborone recently to meet President Khama without prior arrangements.
Sunday Standard has learnt that even the Ghanzi District Council, where Sesana reports, was not aware that he had travelled to meet Khama.
Those close to Sesana said it was a matter of time before he found something with which to lynch the government for daring to dangle a carrot in front of Basarwa.
In 2016, the First People of the Kalahari (FPK) leader joined the employ of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as a project officer based in Molapo, the largest settlement in CKGR where he was born. He was supposed to coordinate projects and services that government intended to restore in the reserve after they were terminated during a historic relocation in 2002.
But it seems the truce which was brokered in 2016 is on the brink of collapse. One of the contentious issues that led to Sesana travelling all the way from CKGR to Gaborone was government’s refusal to make its position known on the court decisions especially with respect to siblings of the applicants in the case in which the court ruled that they were entitled to return and live in the reserve.
Insiders said that Sesana wants government to make an undertaking that their future generations would also be part of the court decision that allows them to enter the reserve as they wish. They also want Khama to instruct the Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to make all arrangements necessary to enable the Basarwa tribe to apply for special game licenses or hunting permits.
Another contentious issue is the appeal by Basarwa to government to revoke a hunting ban imposed on them in the reserve. Sesana who was supposed to be the government’s contact person in the reserve also accused the government officials who visit the reserve of sidelining him.
The meeting at the Office of the President was attended by Local Government Minister Slumber Tsogwane and President Khama’s younger brother Tshekedi Khama who is also the Minister of environment, Conservation, Natural Resources and Tourism. It is understood that Sesana wants government to commit itself to resolving the contentious issues that he tabled at the meeting.
He is also said to have questioned the wisdom of entrusting the projects in the reserve such as a community trust with Tshekedi’s ministry because of the mistrust between the Ministry and Basarwa. Sesana allegedly informed the meeting that they didn’t trust Tshekedi’s Ministry because it was the same Ministry that had argued that they could not co-exist with wild animals in the reserve resulting in their relocation in 2002.
The issue that broke the camel’s back was when he was advised to tone down his voice and desist from disparaging government since he was a civil servant. Sesana is said to have left Office of the President an unhappy man. Hence when officials from Gantsi travelled to CKGR to ferry him to Gantsi to receive his salary for the month of August he told them off.
“He told them that he did not approach the government seeking employment and they returned empty handed,” a source said.
President Khama’s press secretary Gobe Pitso confirmed that “…Mr Sesana did indeed pay a courtesy call on His Excellency the President, and this was not the first such courtesy call.”
Gobe played down reports that the relationship between Basarwa and government is on the brink of collapse. According to Gobe, Sesana “had come to thank His Excellency the President for some of the developments undertaken in their villages and also for those that are actually still on-going, as well as for the constructive engagement that has ensued in pursuance of some of these developmental initiatives.”
He added that “Please also note that in the aforestated meetings, the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development, as well as that of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, were present as the Government Offices mandated to deal with some of the matters in relation hereto.”