In the face of the global financial crisis, which threatens to adversely hit the diamond-led Botswana economy, government this week announced it would seriously consider fast tracking the diversification process, diverting more attention to the tourism sector.
Briefing Ntlo ya Dikgosi on environmental and tourism issues Tuesday, the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, said tourism was a sound and tangible alternative, adding that his ministry intends rolling up its sleeves against Community Based Organisations (CBOs) whose profits from natural resources tend to line some pockets of the few privileged individuals while the rest of the community wallows in abject poverty.
CBOs are government initiatives designed to empower and develop communities living side by side with natural resources such as wildlife, while at the same time managing these natural resources.
There are seen as employment creation to the disadvantaged rural poor and over 8 000 individuals across the country have been employed through these CBOs.
With the government having of late come out of the closet to announce the country is not sparred from the global recession and more retrenchments in the offing, particularly in diamond mining, government finds itself in a tight corner with the tourism sector the alternative solace.
However, these CBOs are mismanaged, lack accountability and proper audit, resulting with funds going into the wrong hands for personal use. They often disintegrate to form splinter organizations with tribal and political factions playing dominance.
“We are going to take stern measures against unscrupulous individuals and CBOs which are not serious with development and the upliftment of communities. CBOs should portray a sense of commitment and they should live sustainably with the natural resources,” Mokaila said.
He noted most of the CBOs are in joint venture agreements rather than joint venture partnership, making them mere passive recipients of the income.
“We need communities to be active or true managers and decision makers over their land and resources. Taken in a nutshell, tourism could bring more fortunes to this country and its people,” Mokaila reiterated.
He promised dikgosi that his ministry would collaborate with other responsible stakeholders to ensure tourism is revamped and uplifts the livelihood of Batswana from the precarious situation that lies ahead.
Through tourism, Batswana could own lodges, engage themselves in hunting expeditions and photographs thereby earning some income.
For their part, dikgosi expressed acknowledgement to the proposed stance, urging the government to precipitate the proposal.
The former Chairman of the House, Kgosi Seepapitso, decried the lack of government intervention to preserve hereditary monuments.
“There are historical sites which should be preserved at all costs for our future generations,” Seepapitso lamented.