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A royal hunt

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A royal hunt

Five months since Mababe Zokotsama Community Development Trust secretly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a local safari company, African Field Sports (AFS), the small community of Mababe remains divided.

As reported in The Voice last week, the Trust had been given a licence to hunt 20 elephants, with the MoU – which was actually signed before the trust received their elephant quota – agreeing for the hunting rights to go exclusively to AFS.

At the centre of the conflict is the Trust’s board, Village Development Committee and the village tribal leader, Kgosi Kgosikemontle Kebuelemang.

A task force appointed by Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane released its findings last week, attributing much of the division to Kebuelemang.

In this interview, the under fire royal hits back and gives his side of the story to FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA.

Thank you for your time Kgosi.

Q. Kindly clear the dust surrounding the allegations levelled against you by the task force. Apparently you have been blamed for causing division within the village and are refusing to cooperate with the Trust.

This is not true.

If it was so, I would not have previously written a letter to the board encouraging them to work well with dikgosi, Member of Parliament, the councillor and Village Development Committee.

The board has never invited us to their meetings despite the Kgosi being an ex officio member of the board.

Q. Is it true that you have been influencing the board to take wrong decisions?

It would have been nice if these accusations were backed by examples.

If one makes such allegations, then there has to be proof.

Even the task force failed to put such evidence in the report.

This is because the task force was used as a clever tool by perpetrators to launder the shady deal and under the table agreement in the form of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with African Field Sports.

The task force was used to clean the maladministration and give it some sort of legitimacy.

The bottom line of the report was to give me a bad name, intimidate and silence me.

Q. What makes you think so?

If you look at the report, it was so biased and aimed at trying to silence me.

That is why even the Ministry rejected the task force’s recommendations for the DCEC to come and investigate me.

It was because they realised that once DCEC comes in, skeletons will come tumbling out of the closet, especially from the Ministry.

DCEC officers are not amateurs – they are expert investigators; they will sniff for proof and a lot of rot will be exposed!

As for me, I welcome DCEC to dig into this matter.

The task force said you are fronting for other companies.

Q. Is this the reason you were vocal against the selling of hunting licence to African Field Sport?

No I am not fronting for anyone.

I have always said to anyone who cares to listen that my wish is to see the agreement and wishes of the community honoured.

The community have agreed that adverts should be placed in local media for expression of interest in regards to auctioning the trophy hunting.

This was to open it to all other companies that may have interest in this.

That way there will be competition and the licence will go to the highest bidder.

Money obtained from concessioners benefit the community, not individuals.

I was against maladministration, against an agreement signed under the table.

Auctions are done publicly and the issues of fronting cannot win in this matter!

The board further claimed they had to cover your debts, like the P21, 000 Dollar Lodge bill?

The Trust has no business entertaining my personal life.

That debt was incurred on my private capacity and through a company which has nothing to do with the Trust.

I don’t even know how this matter is of concern to the Trust.

I never asked them to pay and they never settled the bill.

This is just a witch hunt!

Q. The task force has not dismissed the MOU. Do you have any power to stop the hunting deal?

No I have none.

But this goes to show that the rot is not only in the Trust.

There are some senior government officials who were part and parcel of this capture of our Trust.

They are using it for their personal benefit!

Q. If you had control of the situation, what would you do?

I’d rectify it and follow the Minister’s recommendation that the hunting quota should be auctioned.

I would allow for the decision of the community to prevail not that of the task force, which is biased and against community interest.

Vision 2036 speaks of a Botswana that has zero tolerance for corruption.

his same 2036 vision speaks of a visible, functional and empowered arms of government because from Vision 2016 we have learnt that for 2036 to be realised, it has to recognise everybody.

All I am saying is that we will do everything in our power to ensure that Mababe does not draw back the rest of Botswana by tolerating corruption.

Interesting!

I am serious.

The very reason why Basarwa do not own land in this country is because they are an easy target.

They are pushovers, they give up too easily!

Some officials know that Basarwa generally will give up their land and relocate once they are ordered to do so, so a precedent was set in history.

They use divide and rule tactics on us.

The same way they did with land, they are doing with the animals.

It is simply politics of stomachs, greed.

I personally will never divide my people because it will not be easy to lead them when they are divided.

I need a united community that can sit down together and plan for village developments that will benefit us all.

Q. Moving away from trophy hunting and Trust matters, generally how are relations between you and the Mababe community, do they give you due respect?

Generally people of Mababe afford me the respect and recognise me as their tribal leader.

Of course there will always be those impossible elements who want to derail others.

When you stand against evil and always support the truth, like me in this case, you get hated most.

Q. Then why are there complaints about you not fully executing your tribal authority duties?

Like I have said before, those are witch hunt stories.

It is not true that I am not doing my job.

One thing that must be understood is that there is no tribal administration support staff in Mababe.

I do not have a court clerk or a court bailiff.

Whenever there are cases I request the assistance of a court clerk from Sankoyo or Khwai.

And again we do not get many cases in Mababe, hence most of the time I have to come to Maun to assist with arbitration matters.

Even as we speak, there is no pending case in Mababe, unless one was recorded this morning.

Q. I have been informed that you are quite the ladies man. Is it true members of the opposite sex are throwing themselves at you?

Look here, I am not married.

The people who told you those rumours must understand that as human beings we are different.

We have different priorities, programmes and interests, even our hopes and expectations differ from one person to another.

However, once I commit myself to marriage, it will be evident.

I respect the marriage institution.

But for now I am not married.

There are many married people who do not respect their marriage; I am not that kind of person.

Q. But have you found a partner who is potentially your future bride?

Yes I have found the one and I cannot be moved.

I am single but not searching.

When the time for us to tie the knot arrives, I will make it known to the public.

At this very moment I have not yet decided to go down on my knees, but I am thinking about it.

Q. Do you have children? Has the heir to the throne been born yet?

Yes I have children.

I have eight, five biological and three adopted.

Yes the heir has been born and it is no secret.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are you up to this weekend?

I like farming and most likely I will at the farm.

It has been a while.

The community issues have been keeping me very busy!

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