Mmegi Online :: AG rubbishes demand to stop Makgadikgadi fence
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Last Updated
Friday 20 April 2018, 13:36 pm.
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AG rubbishes demand to stop Makgadikgadi fence

The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has squashed Khumaga/Moreomato communities’ latest efforts to halt the ongoing construction of the Makgadikgadi National Park boundary fence.
By Baboki Kayawe Tue 19 Sep 2017, 16:10 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: AG rubbishes demand to stop Makgadikgadi fence








In their recent push to stop the development, the residents, through their lawyer, Batlhalefi Moeletsi of Moeletsi Attorneys, wrote to government demanding that the expansion of the boundary fence be stopped with immediate effect. Residents insisted that Kopano Building Construction, the company awarded the tender; cease work, as “there was no consultation between government and residents”.

However, the AG poured cold water on their request. Responding to the Khumaga/Moreomaoto letter of demand, the principal legal adviser to government said work on site continues because as far as they are concerned, the issue of consultation is water under the bridge.

The letter states that only eight people are affected by the development and they have since been compensated. 

The villagers are contesting government’s decision to extend the Makgadikgadi boundary fence 50 metres further into communal land, a move that will see part of the Boteti River fenced in.

A task force elected by the affected villagers to take up this matter says a chunk of land from the Boteti West area, particularly Khumaga, will be lost to the expansion of the fence, leaving residents with no land for sustenance. The secretary general of the task team, Bapaletswe Motamma earlier told Mmegi that government made a unilateral decision.

He said this decision threatens the relocation of some residents as the Makgadikgadi boundary fence encroaches 50 metres further into the communal land. Following the erection of a game-proof fence to demarcate the boundary between the Makgadikgadi National Park and communal land in its vicinity, that was completed in the late 2000s to address long standing issues of livestock encroachment into the national park, the fence was dilapidated further worsening the human-wildlife conflict it was intended to curb.

As a result, the communities pleaded for the refurbishment of the fence. Moreover, owing to the land scarcity in the area, the constituents approached government asking for a piece of the state land. They had appealed for the realignment of the buffer fence 10 kilometres away from Khumaga village into the park, in order to address this matter but their request was in vain.

“We are surprised that the fence expansion

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is ongoing, though we have noted our dissatisfaction. Mid July, we told President Khama in a Kgotla meeting that we are baffled by the development because the community has not consented to the decision. We are eagerly awaiting government to thoroughly engage us,” Motamma said. “We had hoped for the better, but we are really left with no option but to proceed and take the issue the legal way.

“We thought government will do the right thing, but honestly the only way to address this is through the courts which we are approaching before end of September,” he had said in an earlier interview.

The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama, recently told the July Parliament that the decision to enclose the river would not affect livelihoods as there will be gates along the fence positioned at strategic points to enable the community access to the Boteti River waters.

“Furthermore, water will be reticulated for their livestock,” he said. He explained that human-wildlife conflict is a serious concern in the northern part of the country and mostly occurs outside protected areas hence the decision to expand the boundary fence. Increased wildlife population coupled with increase in human population has led to conflict between the two as a result of competition for space or land,” he added.

Khama further said in recent years government introduced different mechanisms to reduce human-wildlife conflict. One of them is constructing a non-lethal electrified fence around protected areas. “Hence the decision to re-align an electrified disease control fence adjacent to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park to address the long-standing issues of problem animals, livestock encroachment and livestock disease control,” he said.

Khama further said the main objective for erecting the Makgadikgadi fence is to address the human-wildlife conflict issue by preventing wild animals encroaching into the communal land and on the other hand livestock from encroaching into the National Park.

“Wild animals are destroying crops and preying on livestock and also posing a danger to human life as there are high numbers of incidents in the Boteti Sub-District caused by wild animals,” Khama said.

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