MAUN – Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism Felix Monggae was on Thursday sent packing by councillors of the North West District Council who felt his presence at the ongoing full council meeting was uncalled for.
This emerged after obvious resentment and a long debate by councillors based on whether Monggae, who had attended the full council meeting on behalf of Minister Tshekedi Khama should be allowed to address and later respond to their queries or not.
The Deputy PS was accompanied by the Acting Deputy Director in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Moemi Batshabang as well as senior officials from the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO). Councillors argued that they had for a long time summoned Tshekedi to come and address them on serious issues of concern in the district but he had been playing hard to get and always came up with lame excuses not to see them. But his continued non-appearance at all council meetings worried them the most as they now feel their authority is in a way underestimated.
They said the ministry was currently in a mess and served personal interests all because of Tshekedi’s poor administration, which is why they wanted him to show up at the meeting so that he may explain his way of doing things.
Two of the most burning issues which they want discussed is the long-standing issue of the takeover of Maun Educational Park by government, which councillors believe is a directive from Tshekedi. They also want him to come and explain why he believes Chiefs Island, which is situated in Xaxaba, some isolated ungazetted settlement in the Okavango delta, and sits on state land while the area is known to be a part of Batawana Tribal land. These are the same issues which the Batawana Tribal leadership also want explained. Their pleas have also literally been turned down by the Tshekedi.
Because of the bitterness and sudden animosity displayed by councillors, Deputy Council Chairman Latlhang Molonda also felt pressured to use his powers to adjourn the council, after a recommendation that there should be a vote to determine the number of those who wanted the Deputy PS to continue with his presentation or whether he should leave. At the end of it all the majority did not vote in favour of the PS and so he and his delegation were told to leave the council chamber.
“Tshekedi has personalised this ministry and wants it to operate it like a household. Why does he have a problem with seeing us? Why does he delight in sending his subordinates instead? We are not going to tolerate this behavior. We want him here and nobody else. He is the one who turned this ministry upside down and so we want to hold him accountable for his actions. There is no way that we are going to allow him to do as he wishes at our expense”, said an irate Councillor, Moedi Modiegi.
Another Councillor Luke Motlaleselelo pointed out that Tshekedi had on numerous occasions failed to address communities in the delta. He said he must come and tell them why and how he came up with a decision that they should not benefit from funds obtained from natural resources.
As the second economic booster after diamonds, he said tourism should be promoted and treated with the dignity it deserves, adding that this could only be achieved through timely consultations with delta communities.
“He must come and explain and show cause why funds kept in holding accounts cannot be released to the relevant people, the very people who made that money and now suddenly left out. People are suffering as we speak. And we are talking here of people who are surrounded by natural resources which they should be benefiting from,” he said.