Sunday, September 26, 2021

No reprieve in sight for Mababe residents

Tawana Land Board Secretary Gabofete Raditladi says there are no plans in place to allocate plots to residents of Khwai/Mababe settlements in the Moremi Game Reserve.

She said the Land Board is awaiting feedback from the Botswana Geo Science Institute which is busy at work doing a geo-technical study of the area.

The two settlements, where residents are mostly Basarwa are located in a wildlife management area of concession NG 33.

Raditladi explained that it is  a state land. She further said residents were initially made aware of the sensitivity of the area they currently occupy, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of being allocated plots in a state land as compared to having their settlements in tribal land.

She cited Phuduhudu settlement in the Makgadikgadi pans where residents were given special dispensation and are being confined to a small built-up space to continue staying there, even though the area is also state land.

They were also made aware of a couple of other restrictions, one of them being that they cannot freely cross into the Makgadikgadi area without following laid down procedures regarding free movement in the protected area. The same idea, she said, was sold to communities of Khwai/Mababe at a kgotla meeting addressed by former Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele.

At the meeting, they were given three options of whether they wanted to be relocated to a different place where they can freely do farming and other activities, whether they wanted to remain in a state land or whether they wanted to be allocated a small portion within the state land that would later become tribal land.

Their response then was that they would continue staying in a state land, perhaps because they had hoped that the hunting ban would be lifted. The decision meant their livelihoods depend on tourism and nothing else as both council and the central government cannot provide services on a permanent basis. One of the few services they enjoy is visits by health authorities through mobile clinics even though the visits are not frequent, considering the bad terrain and in most instances, the unavailability of resources.

“We are still awaiting the final report of the Geo-tech which might only be availed during the last quarter of 2018.There is no way we can fast track the allocations because we don’t know what the outcome will be. The expected findings will then guide the land board as to whether or not there will be any growth at the settlement”, said Raditladi.

Meanwhile communities in delta camps in most concessions including parts of the Okavango region have raised complaints about shortage of medical drugs, most importantly condoms. Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) chairman Kenson Kgaga said in an interview with The Telegraph that as tour operators, they have been made to feel the brunt, now that people employed at the camps sometimes go for months without the much needed contraceptive.

He noted that the entire tourism sector as well as communities where they operate are both at risk, adding that the situation is worsened by the continued failure by the District Health Management Team (DHMT) to assist.

 “We are talking here of people who sometimes travel in between camps for close to three months ferrying tourists in the bushes. We are a very health conscious sector and so we wouldn’t want to see our people contract sexually transmitted diseases which could have been avoided. People’s lives are at risk as this has been going on for way too long now. We just pray that this very issue be addressed sooner than later”, he said.

 Reached for a comment, head of Ngamiland DHMT Dr Malebogo Pusoentsi denied the accusations saying tour operators are asking for just too much from the health sector. She said the ministry of health shouldn’t be held responsible for such, and advised that tour operators should also come on board and provide their employees with such products.  

“All along we have been extending a favour to them. Therefore they should not mistake a favour for a right. The issue of condom scarcity is a countrywide problem and Ngamiland is equally affected. Instead of pointing fingers they must work hard and meet us half way and make provisions to their people. Talk that we have distanced ourselves as DHMT is also false”, said Pusoentsi.

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