The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Elias Magosi, came under fire in parliament on Friday over his ministry’s lacklustre performance. Magosi who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday was accused of not serving the interests of the citizens of Botswana.
“Elephants are destroying the people’s crops, terrorising people and you seem not to care. Foot and mouth disease is rampant in the North East, Matopo and Matsiloje villages and you do not care. Elephants destroy crops and you do not compensate,” Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma fumed.
Guma repeatedly fired salvos at Magosi saying, “People live in fear and yet you display a high level of insensitivity and degree of arrogance.”
With Government spending a large chunk of money on crop production under ISPAAD, Guma reminded Magosi of animal crop destruction which he says is the result of lack of strategy and leadership.
“People at Dikgatlhong depend on tourism and fishing for their livelihood but you come with a rule and kick them out. Who do we talk to as you are not visible? Currently over 200 elephants roam the areas…leopards, lions kill their livestock and you continue to portray this sense of arrogance. Do you know who put us in power? It is this people,” said Guma, venting his anger and frustration at the Accounting Officer.
Whilst admitting some of the criticism, Magosi diluted the blame and instead blamed neighbouring countries for the calamity afflicting the country, citing authorities from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola.
“It must be noted we have a working agreement with these neighbouring countries. While we drill boreholes for our animals the other side will not, prompting their animals to enter our borders in search of water and thereby destroying the fence, crops and spread FMD,” Magosi countered.
He said the Ministry will continue reminding the respective countries of their obligations to protect the environment.
With regards to the fishing ban, Magosi said despite both locals and foreigners engaging in fishing, it was the latter who are the main beneficiaries as they end up returning to their respective countries with a huge trove of fish and without paying tax. He said this necessitated the fishing ban.
However Member of Parliament for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane dismissed the assertions saying fish species know no boundary, blaming the social economic ills afflicting Batswana as deliberate actions by the Ministry.