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Victory for Batawana is certain

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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