Botswana: Land Boards to Allocate Prime Tourism Concessions

Tawana land board will start allocating prime tourism land in the Okavango delta following a decision by government to give land boards authority to take control of allocating tourism concessions.

The decision also repeals the controversial land bank which was enforced under Ian Khama administration in 2014 in which all prime tourism concessions were transferred from Land Board across the country to Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism through a directive. The Chairman of Tawana Land board, Emmanuel Dube, said they are delighted by the decision as they were not happy with the decision to transfer the allocation of tourism concessions to the Ministry of Environment.

Dube further said taking control of tourism concessions they inherit challenges like renewal of leases. He stated that they are going to assess whether to renew them or not. He also noted that they will continue to work with the Ministry of Environment and Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) because of their expertise in allocation of tourism concessions. Dube also they have embarked on a process of developing variants to have a template of leases, so that lease will not have variants. He also added that soon they will engage all those who concessions in the tourism and inform them about the decision.

In 2017, four members of Tawana Land Board 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 the concession which belongs to Batawana community.

However, the members were reinstated After careful review of the circumstances and process leading to their removal from office, and after consultations with other affected Land Board Members, the Government has taken a decision to pardon the four Land Board members and reinstate them with immediate effect by the President Mokgweetsi Masisi administration.

Batswana have also been complaining that most of the prime tourism concession in the delta have been allocated to foreigners. When addressing the Botswana Democratic Party rally in Maun West recently, President Masisi had confirmed that indeed most of the tourism concessions have been allocated to foreigners.

Masisi said that the Minister of Environment, Kitso Mokaila has informed that there are only five big remaining concessions in the delta of which they have decided that these concessions will be subdivided so that many Batswana can benefit. He said all the concessions will be allocated to indigenous Batswana. Masisi also said the matter will be resolved between August and September hence urge Batswana to be ready to benefit from these concessions.

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