Kgosi Tawana, President Masisi , and two communities show interest
Request by government to acquire a chunk of land in Moremi Game reserve in the Okavango Delta has raised eyebrows and divided opinion among leaders in the North West District.
“This is mainly because there is an existing conflict over the same piece of land that lies in NG 28 and NG 21 and I don’t see the North West District Council allowing this application to pass unless we are given clear reasons what it will be used for,” stated North West District Council chairperson, Kebareeditse Ntsogotho in an interview this week.
Top in the said conflict is Batawana paramount chief kgosi Tawana Moremi’s application for inheritance of the land in the NG 28 which he claims belongs to his forefathers.
However early this month when the landboard was due to process his application, the board was divided with some raising objection over the inheritance matter.
This was because before the same board there is a counter claim by Basarwa Khoedom council, which claims that the land in question does not belong to the royal family but rather to Basarwa and Bayei communities who lived there before the arrival of Batawana.
The landboard therefore failed to make a conclusion on Moremi’s application and instead forwarded it to the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation for guidance.
Meanwhile in 2019, state president, Mokgwetsi Masisi promised to give Moremi a perfect gift during his 50th birthday celebration. He mentioned that he would give back Maun Educational park to the community, a promise he has already honoured.
Masisi further stated that Moremi will get the piece of land in chiefs island in Moremi Game Reserve, but that the Landboard application process has to be followed first.
This week at the opening of the full council meeting,minister in the Lands ministry, Kefentse Mzwinila made a correspondence to the council in which he is seeking opinion of the council regarding the central government’s application for the same piece of land in question.
The correspondence states that Masisi has used his presidential powers to apply for the land.
“ We received the letter and the president was within the legal route, but what is troubling us is that the public interest raised is not clear, so it will become difficult for us to support this request because there are so many Batswana who want to use that land as well for tourism purposes,” explained the council chairperson, Ntsogotho.
Ntsogotho says he believes majority of the councillors would not allow the application to pass. However Ntsogotho fears that Masisi would still get his way anyway.
A councillor in Bojanala ward, Luke Motlaleselelo shared the same concern, “This is a very sensitive issue. Matters of land requires thorough public consultation and Ngamiland communities should have been consulted first, that is if they believe in democratic rule. But we all know that our Land board consists of mostly ruling party members and although we may turn the application down, the Landboard will sit and decide,”said Motlaleselo.
The councillors” further contention is that at the end of the day, the minister would issue a commission of inquiry and the central government will grab the land after all.
Apparently the government had made it clear in its application that it will not affect existing land rights in the area, Landboard chairperson, Dube confirmed but declined to discuss the matter further before the council seating.