23- YEAR WAIT FOR CHIEF’S ISLAND COMES TO AN END
Batawana Paramount Chief, Kgosi Tawana Moremi, says they are yet to identify his inheritance piece of land at Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta, which Tawana Land board approved for allocation on Tuesday last week.
Although Moremi will allegedly get one of the three lodge sites at the Island, situated inside Moremi Game Reserve, he maintained in this week’s interview that, “What has happened for now is approval of my application and what remains is to identify the plot.”
Having waited for 23 years for his request to be granted, Moremi did admit that he was happy at the development, “Of course I have been pursuing this matter since 1998, so yes, I am satisfied now.”
In 2019 on Tawana;s 50th birthday celebration, president Mokgweetsi Masisi promised the chief a piece of land at Chief’s Island as a birthday gift, provided he followed formal application procedures through the Landlord.
Chief’s Island according to historians and elders of Batawana, was a hunting ground for Batawana royals and some of them believe Moremi has an inheritance right over it.
Nonetheless, a group of Basarwa of Xaxaba community in the Delta held a different view and maintained that the plot was actually their ancestral land.
In fact in June this year they approached the Land Tribunal in an effort to appeal the matter and at the time they had thought Tawana Land board had already allocated the land to him and withdrew the case when they learnt that he had not been given the land yet.
Before the withdrawal Tawana land board forwarded Moremi’s application to its parent ministry for guidance as there were at the time counter claims on the said land.
“After the counter applicants withdrew their application from the land Tribunal, the land board then had the liberty to process the application,” explained Land board member of preferred anonymity.
The source further revealed that the land in question is close to the presidential piece of land which was recently allocated to the state by the land board.
Nonetheless the board chairperson, Emmanuel Dube declined to share more information on the case only saying, “We are not at liberty to discuss client issue. He (Tawana) is our client and we are still processing his application. That is all I can say.”
Maun based attorney, Charles Tlagae who has been representing Tawana I in the matter maintains that the chief did not get any special treatment and that President Masisi played no role in the application and awarding process.
“It was a normal application. We fought hard to persuade the land board to grant Kgosi Tawana Moremi that land. Masisi is far from these things. It was not easy to convince the land board,” Tlagae explained.
Meanwhile spokesperson for Tawana’s tribal regiment, Matsaakgang, Douglas Mokenane said they are hoping that by next week the land would have been identified and allocated to their leader.
“No formal correspondence has been made, but normally the process should take a week,” Mokenane noted.
Among the pieces of land that Moremi has been advocating for is Maun Education park which has since been returned to Batawana at the order of president Masisi. Nonetheless Batawana still maintain that Moremi Game Reserve belongs to them and not the state and Mokenani noted that, “That is the only pending matter for now.”