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Victory for Batawana is certain

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RETURN OF MAUN EDUCATIONAL PARK TO THE COMMUNITY ALMOST COMPLETE

Batawana land board chairperson, Immanuel Dube says the process of handing over Maun Education Park (MEP) back to Batawana tribal authority is at an advanced stage.

Responding to media questions during a press conference in Maun on Monday, Dube added that, “We have already communicated with representatives of Batawana regarding the issue of handing over the park. We are discussing the matter with them.”

He added that, “The decision has been made, the only remaining action is to conclude the handing over.”

State president, Mokgweetsi Masisi made the directive for the park to be handed over last year October during Batawana paramount chief, Tawana Moremi’s 50th birthday celebration at Maun kgotla.

Masisi said he was going to return the park as a birthday gift to kgosikgolo Tawana Moremi who had just stepped down from active politics.

The spokesperson for Batawana regiments, Douglas Mukenane confirmed that very soon a kgotla meeting will be called to delibarate on the matter and resolve it. “Proposals have been drafted and what remains is for morafe to guide and direct on way forward,” said Mokenane

MEP issues date back many years ago but came to the fore in 2014 following a decision by Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) to change the land use of the park to develop a five-star hotel, big restaurants, conference venues and entertainment facilities.

Moremi, who was a member of parliament then as well as the general Batawana community were against the development in which the then Minister responsible for tourism and national parks, Tshekedi Khama said the government had invested P45 million.

The history of the park is such that in 1963, Ngamiland community trust, under Fauna conservation society established the game reserve.

That was two years before the country gained independence from Britain.

In 1967 the same society established the Maun Educational Park.

However in 1977 the society handed over the management of the two estates to the government’s department of Wildlife and National Parks.

When landboards were established in 1979, they were made trustees of the two estates.

Although Batawana maintained they never gave the government complete rights over their tribal land, the government under the previous administrations insisted the land belonged to it.

However Khama, had in 2014 proposed a marvellous picture of a breathtaking and grand entrance to the Okavango Delta on this pristine piece of land located in the centre of Maun.

In fact the North West District Council even proposed projects that included a 150-roomed five- star hotel with entertainment, gaming, retail and restuarant facilities to be built at the right corner of the land.

The hotel was to be accompanied by a conference centre with a capacity of 1000 people.

An exclusive lodge was also to be built with a minimum of twelve chalets or tents by a private investor.

On the 31.4 hectares of dry land, adjacent to existing entrance of the park, a high quality restaurant lying along the edge of the Thamalakane river was proposed to be taken by a private investor as well.

An iconic river crossing in the form of a boardwalk elevated above the Thamalakane river from the Maun new mall side was also to be erected. It was to provide pedestrian connection between restaurant park and Maun core area.

A boat station was to connect the restaurant and walking trails from other sections and proposed facilities within the park.

An attractive eco-centre that will afford visitors an opportunity to learn about the natural and cultural history of the delta was also being proposed.

Further, the centre was to be used for educational purposes by students and researchers among other developments.

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How Gov bluddered on first Corona virus death

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*Hundreds exposed to the virus

Government secrecy and unreliable communication this week dealt a devastating blow to the fight against Corona virus, exposing hundreds of people to infection in Gaborone and surrounding areas.

As people reeled from the announcement of the first Corona Virus death in the country on Tuesday afternoon, it has emerged that government had known about the 79- year- old Ramotswa woman’s status since Thursday last week and concealed the information both to the family and mortuary that handled her body.

On Wednesday afternoon traumatised Babereki Ka Lorato Mortuary staff spoke of how they were unnecessarily exposed to the deadly virus.

Speaking in an interview with The Voice Newspaper on Wednesday, the concerned Chairman of the mortuary, Martin Gabokake said the woman was brought in a body bag on Friday.

“Our employees asked why someone who had died at Bamalete Lutheran hospital a day before was brought in a body bag and they were told she died of asthma, and so they let the body in and handled it in the manner they normaly handle all other bodies,” Gabobake explained.

He went on further to explain that it was only yesterday that to their shock and horror the staff was told of the true nature of the old woman’s passing.
“ Had we been told the truth to begin with, the body would have been handled in a safer way. The fact that they brought her in a body bag means they new something and they blatantly lied to us,” Gabobake said.

Her funeral was also not accorded the security screening associated with Covid-19 deaths, a source has revealed. Health officials have since asked villagers who had attended the old woman’s funeral to submit for testing as they to may have been exposed to the virus.

This was another terrible blunder by government. Had they disclosed that the old woman had died of COVID -19 or even told us that she was a suspected case, most of us would have kept away,” said the source.

Meanwhile government moved to quarantine 14 family members on Tuesday. All mortuary employees and close associates of the woman were also locked up for observation on Wednesday.

Colleagues of the deceased grandson, who works for a local hotel, have also been summoned for mandatory testing.

“Her grandson (name known to this publication) continued working with us and it was business as usual. He did not know his grandmother had the virus and died from it. They were very close. He is the one who took care of her and took her for hospital visits,” the worried colleague has revealed.

Efforts to get a comment from the grandson were futile at the time of going to press. In a telephone interview from quarantine he told The Voice that he wished for privacy.

Botswana has recorded one death as a result of the COVID-19 with three positive cases currently stable at the Sir Ketumile Teaching Hospital in Gaborone.

There are 189 negative results, 593 lab test performed and 1856 people currently on quarantine.

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Politicians clash over Covid-19 meeting

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The fight against Covid-19 stepped into the periphery of partisan politics this week as the absence of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders sparked accusations and counter-accusations over their invitation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s closed meeting.

UDC President, Duma Boko and party vice president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not part of the delegation that attended the three-hour long meeting.

Although Masisi stated that Boko, like other party leaders was invited, the UDC has vehemently denied the claim.

In a press release that was issued last night the UDC said. “We have noted the events that have been evolving around the Covid-19 pandemic, its a serious matter that requires all of us to work genuinely. We value and encourage national dialogue on important matters such as the fight against Covid 19. The truth is that the UDC president has not received any invitation from Office of the President and we call OP to provide proof.”

However, when the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa was asked about calls made to him by OP, he said, ” I was asked about Boko’s whereabouts by Kaelo Molefe and I told him I was in Phikwe. I asked him to check him at his house. This morning I got another call from Professor Mpho Molomo who said he had Boko’s invitation to a meeting with President Masisi and I suggested that they go to his house, an address which is popular within the government enclave. I indicated to him that I had received a similar call from Kaelo Molefhe and he said he was with him. Kaelo knows where Boko stays having been his associate in the build-up to the 2014 General Elections. So quite frankly I doubt he would say he does not know Boko’s house. As regards Nick and Keorapetse I cannot comment on their behalf, ” explained Mohwasa last night.

Dithapelo Keorapetse too said that the OP was being playful. “Why would they contact me for DGB? They are aware of his PA, VP, Secretary General, Spokesperson and UDC NEC. These are the people from who to check him. Whoever wants the UDC President from me for official things is playing. The state has been to his house several times. How did they suddenly forget his place of abode? Even Kaelo knows Boko’s House from his UDC days, ” said Keorapetse.

The accusations did not go well with the BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, who expressed concern that the UDC was turning a pandemic into a political mudsling.

He said that all efforts including calls, text, WhatsApp messages to Boko, Moeti, Keorapetse and Boko’s bodyguard were made without any success. “There is a communication trail to prove this. UDC must know when to come to the table and be patriotic on issues on national interest such as COVID-19, its very disappointing for a party calling themselves an alternative government to behave in this manner but Batswana are watching and we know they will punish them for this.”

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