Botswana: Batswana to Play Key Role in Tourism

Shakawe — Government is committed to ensuring that Batswana benefit from the tourism sector.

This was said by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi at a kgotla meeting he addressed in Shakawe on August 15. He said government had taken a stance to afford Batswana first priority in tourism business as a way of generating employment.

Further, the President said government would ensure that the tourism sector contributed to the country's economy with Batswana at the forefront of its operation.

Dr Masisi said cultural tourism could also be harnessed whereby the visiting tourists mingled with Batswana and learn the local culture. For instance, he said an old person who could not be employed as a guide because of their advanced age could narrate cultural tales to tourists making money in the process.

The president informed Okavango residents that government had lifted the hunting ban. In 2014, Dr Masisi noted, they thought they were doing the right thing to declare a moratorium on the hunting of all wild animal.

The mistake that we made was to ban hunting without consulting you, he observed adding that he accepted this error.

"We were outside our Setswana culture of consultation. It was against this backdrop that I, in June 2018, set a cabinet committee on hunting ban and social dialogue to kick start the social dialogue aimed at reviewing the ban on hunting, headed by the then local government Minister, Ms Pelonomi Venson Moitoi," explained Dr Masisi He said by this consultation government wanted to know how the concerned people lived with wild animals.

Issues that came out of the consultation, he said were that some wild animals such as elephants destroyed natural habitat, increased human-wildlife conflict as well as an increase in the number of reported cases of people killed by wild animals.

"As a result, I want to tell you that we have lifted the hunting ban," the President Masisi said to the ululation of the residents.

However he told the residents that it would be a controlled hunting based on prepared guidelines. As a case in point, Dr Masisi said there would be places where hunting would be permitted and those that it would not be permitted.

Meanwhile the president said the initiatives that government was implementing like making it easy for the youth to do business in Botswana as well as the removal of licenses which were needed to operate businesses were meant to put the economy in the hands of the locals.

We want you to increase your wealth because if that can be the case the number of local wealthy people would increase, said Dr Masisi.

He said when the number of rich people increased, government could be able to raise funds through tax and carry out more development.

"Today the development that you see were from the little that we get from our diamonds and a few rich people that we recover tax from," he quipped.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism, Mr Kitso Mokaila said his ministry came up with hunting guidelines that would regulate hunting. He said the department of wildlife would soon release lists of hunting areas. He concurred that in the past hunting reduced human-wildlife conflict as those with hunting concessions drilled boreholes that kept animals away from people's properties. Mr Mokaila said government had taken a decision that any available tourism concession should be reserved for Batswana.

He further indicated that there were already five concessions in the Okavango delta which would be allocated to Batswana

However Shakawe residents commended the government for consultation and the lifting of the hunting ban. They said the number of elephants had increased since the hunting ban and they had since encroached into human settlements, posing threat to their lives.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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