Sehitwa: Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has challenged beneficiaries of the poverty eradication programme to transform themselves from rags to become millionaires through the programme.
Addressing a kgotla meeting in Sehitwa Masisi said some rich people just like the recipients of the poverty eradication programme started with nothing but through hard work managed to rise to the top. He said the poverty eradication programme was motivated by the extreme poverty status many Batswana find themselves in saying, “many Batswana leave in hunger.”
He further said: “Government is committed of eliminating extreme poverty among able bodied Botswana in 2016 but the programme has challenges as some recipients are not serious.” He said when things are not going to plan with governments programmes some people rush to blame the programme when it could be the recipients taking the programme who are at fault. Masisi addressed the meeting to hear Lake Ngami communities’ request to government to consider lifting the fishing ban at Lake Ngami. He flew into Sehitwa to address residents of six villages along the Lake about issues pertaining to the fishing ban of 2015.
The issue, which has led to escalating illegal fishing, has been a contentious one. Various speakers at the meeting called on government to lift the fishing ban to save the economy of the villages along the lake, which have taken a knock after government in 2014 freezed all fishing activities at the lake.
Sehitwa Village Development Committee member, Malatelo Molathiwa, when requesting government to resume fishing, said the six villages along the lake face acute unemployment. She revealed that they want government to resume fishing and give Lake Ngami Trust the power to monitor all the fishing activities in the Lake. Molathiwa stated that fishing did not benefit the economies of the villages as a lot of fish were sold cheaply for the Zambian exports.
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Lake Ngami chairman, Frisco Gabokakangwe, Area Member of Parliament Thato Kwerepe and Maun East Member of Parliament Konstantinos Markus further threw their weight behind the residents for the fishing ban to be lifted. Villagers complained that since the ban, a lot of illegal fishing is happening in their areas.
An official of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Moremi Batshabang explained that fishing would be conducted under a Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme. Batshabang stated that government adopted the CBNRM in 2007 to give communities leaving closer to the natural resources some user rights so that they could see a need to conserve the resources. He explained that however, there are activities still ongoing including the finalisation of Environmental Management Plan for the Lake to ensure resource conservation.
Masisi promised that the Lake Ngami communities’ plea has been heard and government would agree to lift the ban provided the people commit to fish in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Masisi said the resources of Botswana should benefit the communities not the current situation where the resources benefit foreigners. “Batswana should be the immediate beneficiaries of all the country’s resources not foreign nationals,” he stated. He explained that government’s dream is the transformation of Lake Ngami in to a fishing hub that will house a fish processing plant. He stated: “it is Batswana who should be at the forefront of fish exporting not the Zambians. They are supposed to buy from us at prices determined by us”.