Friday, July 3, 2020

Minister Khama called to recuse himself in the controversial Maun land

Maun residents have called on the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Conservation Tshekedi Khama to recuse himself from a matter that led to the recent expulsion of former board members of the Tawana Land board.

The former board members were expelled by former Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele.

Maele did not make it to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s new cabinet.

Residents said say they feel belittled by Khama as he has never had the courtesy to respond or acknowledge receipt of the many letters they wrote to him previously. This attitude, they claim, has now been adapted by Tawana land board.

 The four, Frisco Gabokakanngwe, Mpho Mothoka, Tebogo Boalotswe and Selinah Phorano were abruptly dismissed from duty after they were found guilty of refusing to approve a decision by the land authority to allocate a huge chunk of land to Sir Richard Branson, a British billionaire who recently visited the country and had shown interest of investing in the Okavango delta.

They had also resolved not to approve a decision to transfer the four tourism sites of Chief’s Island, Khwai flood plain, Lone Tree as well as Karakao Islands to the tourism land bank before proper consultations with residents could be done.

They said Tshekedi is not fit to handle the matter as he has on numerous occasions appeared to be conflicted.

 At a packed kgotla meeting on Monday addressed by area MP Tawana Moremi, the visibly irritated residents took turns to attack Khama whom they say should recuse himself and allow them to discuss and handle issues of concern internally as residents, particularly those concerning the controversial Moremi Game Reserve.

They suggested that Maele should be summoned to the kgotla to explain who instructed him to relieve the four land board members of their duties.

Moremi told the gathering that he found it relevant to call an emergency meeting so as to clear the air after rumors surfaced relating to infighting at the land board. He noted that just last week the tribal leadership had engaged in a closed meeting with the land board chairperson and his team, and had also called for police presence at the same meeting.

“The reason we involved the police in this issue was to make them aware of the ill-fated conduct portrayed by Tawana Land board .The latter had presented forged documents which did not match the original ones we have archived for years detailing the rightful owners of Moremi Game Reserve. People are being denied access to what belongs to them, and because the police are better trained to handle fraud cases, we found it appropriate to rope them in,” he said. He added that there had been incidents where they held meetings with Khama, only for him to walk out after making his own conclusions.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.