Former Tawana Land Board members who were expelled by former Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele for refusing to approve a decision to grant a piece of land to British billionaire in the Okavango Delta have detailed how their former colleagues had joined the fray in making their lives a living hell.
One of the expelled members, Frisco Gabokakanngwe recalled during a kgotla meeting on Monday that on a number of occasions they were ill-treated by other board members whenever they differed with them. He stated that they had attended board meetings where pressing issues were discussed but always ended without concrete conclusions.
“What the board chairman and the ministers fail to understand is that we had made thorough research on Moremi Game Reserve prior to our appointments. In our last meeting leading to our dismissal we had visited the sites in question and had requested that Batawana be consulted, something which our superiors did not agree to,” he said.
Gabokakangwe insisted that Maele had personally attacked and threatened them whenever they opposed his decisions.
He added “We need investors in our country and therefore had no problem with Branson showing interest to invest here. The problem arose when we questioned the procedure which we felt was inappropriate,” he said.
He added that “We were surprised to learn that our chairman had written a complaint letter to the minister, informing him that we have been sharing confidential matters with the tribal leadership. In no time we were subjected serious investigation by top officials from other land boards until we were finally dismissed on the 29th March and immediately replaced.”
His sentiments were echoed by his former colleague, Tebogo Bolaotswe who warned the leadership to be extra vigilant whenever dealing with senior government officials in the district. He is of the view that most officials are corrupt and as a result serve the interests of government and not the people. He cited as an example, the District Commissioner’s office which he said has never advised or supported them, despite the fact that they always attended board meetings whenever Tshekedi and Maele were present. He also noted that they will never go and beg that they be reinstated as they still believe they are innocent.
Residents had at the meeting had resolved that a delegation should be sent to meet President Mokgweetsi Masisi for a possible solution on the matter, failure at which they will go the legal route.
But Maun Administrative Authority chairperson Moedi Modiegi advised that they should put the idea of engaging courts on hold and take advantage of seeking guidance from the new administration under Masisi and the newly appointed Minister.
For his part, Senior Chiefs representative kgosi Charles Letsholathebe pointed out that his wish is for Masisi not to emulate former president Ian Khama on decision making, because by so doing the many errors committed under Khama will never be solved. He said there is no way that the four sites could be forfeited by government as they are in Batawana tribal as they form part of the many properties in the Moremi Game Reserve, formerly Moremi Wildlife Reserve.