Botswana's President Masisi Buys Lodges At Government Expense Amid an Economic Crisis


Under international Covid-19 travel restrictions, inbound tourism to Botswana has collapsed. President Mokgweetsi Masisi, however, is buying luxury lodges at government expense.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The first signal - on 9 April - was President Mokgweetsi Masisi's "acquisition" of a piece of the world-famous Moremi Game Reserve "in the public interest". A month later, the registrar-general bought Tautona Lodge in Ghanzi, reputedly for 58-million pula (R76-million), which surprised the local council and even the lodge staff.

A wildlife area alongside it was purchased, according to the local The Telegraph newspaper, "for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security to act as its training facility". The lodge had been owned by the former minister of agriculture and ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MP for Ghanzi South, Christian de Graaff.

Moremi Game Reserve is in northern Botswana, in the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during seasonal floods, while Tautona Lodge is a private game reserve near the town of Ghanzi.

"It is shocking that government has unanimously decided to buy [Tautona] despite its pronouncement that the country is in the middle of an economic crisis," said Ghanzi Councillor Kealeboga Gaebuse. "Since there are other...

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