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Covid-19 delays Maun educational park (MEP) hand over

HAND TIED: Kgosi Tawana Moremi


After waiting for what seems like an eternitity for government to hand back Maun Educational Park (MEP), Batawana community will have to wait some more following the cancellation of a Kgotla meeting to form a Trust that will see through the final transfer of ownership of this prime piece of land due to corona virus.

This week government released a statement banning gatherings of more than 100 people in one place as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a disease that has since been declared a world pandemic by World Health organisation (WHO) following the outbreak of corona virus in Wuhan, China.

“This means we cannot call a kgotla meeting for now. We have plans to call the meeting, but we cannot set a date because we have to wait until the status quo changes,” explained Batawana paramount chief, kgosi Tawana Moremi in a brief interview this week.

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Last week the government announced that it has handed back ownership of MEP to Batawana community.

In a savinggram to Tawana Landboard, the ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism (MENCT) ordered Tawana landboard to facilitate the transfer and advised that, “The community is therefore advised to form a community Trust or submit the name of the established Trust in order to facilitate the transfer of the park.”

Matsaakgang regiment spokesperson Douglas Mokenane, said that a Trust couldn’t be appointed until the community has given a mandate, “This is an issue of morafe and therefore they are the ones to give direction and guidance on how it is to be handled,” said Mokenane.

Currently there isn’t much activity going on in this park, which sits on the banks of Thamalakane River, but before handing it over, the government had plans to make it more attractive to tourists.

This included building of holiday resorts and world-class restaurants in this park.

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Former MENCT’s minister, Tshekedi Khama, who is also brother to Botswana’s former president, Ian Khama Seretse Khama, pushed the idea.

At the time government argued strongly that MEP did not belong to Batawana community. However, Khama’s successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi distanced himself from the previous administration stance last year and announced publicly that he was going to hand over MEP back to Batawana as a gift to their paramount chief, Moremi, who had just retired from active politics.

Initially MEP was run by Batawana through Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland and was taken over by Department of Wildlife and National Parks in 1979 when government took over most of national parks around the country.

However Batawana had always maintained that MEP and Moremi Game Reserve were given to government on temporary basis for technical help in running of the two places.

“ Moremi Game Reserve was established, and then it was agreed in a kgotla meeting that instead of taking students or children deep into the Okavango Delta to see animals, it will be wise to bring the animals closer to the people; for educational purposes although there are no longer big animals in the park. That is how MEP was created,” Mokenane explained

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