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Those 200 filthy rich

Sandy Grant 2013-10-01 09:30:00
Itís an irresistible topic, probably because it seems to touch on so many areas of interest and concern - planning, climate change, agriculture, urban water supply, historical documentation, rainfall patterns, sedimentation, international water usage, the pollution, and environmental considerations.

In the event, however, the Telegraph for one, sees it differently.  Its stance, and its conviction being presented in its front-page news story which purportedly reported the recent discussion between the members of the Ntlo ya Dikgosi and Minister Kitso Mokaila. (18.6.2014). 

 This  report wasted no time in setting out its stall. Its headline statement allowed for no doubt and no qualification -‘Dikgosi take Mokaila to Task over Private Dams blocking Gaborone Dam’. 

If any further information was required to support that statement of supposed fact, the report then referred to ‘a study that shows that rich farmers have built 200 illegal dams along Notwane River and other main streams blocking the flow of water into the Gaborone dam’.  

The report continues by indicating that Dikgosi grilled the Minister over the damming ‘which has disrupted the flow into Gaborone Dam  resulting in unprecedented low level’. In response the Minister defended the private dam owners suggesting that the dams had been there for some time, that they had little effect on the inflow into the Gaborone Dam but did serve a useful purpose in reducing sedimentation..

The Telegraph report then continues by stating that the WUC-UB study shows that most of the dams have been built in private land belonging to rich families.

WUC, it says, has refused to disclose the names of the people who built the dams.

The study, it says, is understood to have revealed the names of the culprits who are believed to be connected to powerful political interests.

I really do believe that the WUC-UB, without equivocation, has a responsibility to clarify a scenario which from my perspective, now comes close to being a witch hunt and one which is being deliberately distorted and exaggerated. As I understand matters, the Gaborone dam is fed by two rivers the Notwane and the Metsemaswaane.

A significant part of the Notwane’s catchment area is in South Africa so that whatever take off occurs there must to some extent affect the inflow into the Dam.

That said, those two rivers flow through both freehold and tribally owned areas where those 200 dams are located. But in which are the majority located?

The freehold areas suggests wealth, political connections and the capacity to construct dams of a significant size; in the tribal areas people are likely to have fewer means of doing so other than by collective action.


Yet, as I look at that area, I see only two dams of any significant size – the Notwane Dam and the Mogobane Dam, the one on freehold land, the other tribal and by mere guess work, the latter being larger than the former. Nobody mentions the latter, probably because it is the Notwane Dam which is, I suspect, the one and only trigger which has prompted this conviction that the few, privileged rich are, in effect, destroying the nation’s capital.

In effect, I suspect that concerns about those unidentified rich revolve around the owner of a sizeable chicken farm in the area and his supposed ownership of the dam which was constructed to provide water for the railway.

But if we truly wish to come to a better understanding about those 200 dams we need to take note of the reports of the meeting of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of MMEWR,   Boikobo Paya, with the South East District Council – see the Daily News and The Voice both dated June 19.

Paya provided Council members, some of whom must be dam owners and the supposed culprits, either singly or collectively, with a mass of technical information.

But with due respect, it was not his information which blew away all the recent, very loaded, nasty huff and puff, it was the comment of Councillor Molemi Rakgomo who said that when the Gaborone Dam was constructed [in 1965] most of those small dams (repeat ‘small’) were already in existence.

If he is correct – and who will step forward to contest his s straightforward, uncomplicated statement? - the fixation with those two hundred rich - who the WUC refuses to identify - who have supposedly deprived Gaborone of its water supply by illegally constructing dams, disappears in a puff of smoke.  

But in that case, we will need to confront ourselves honestly and admit, uncomfortably of course, that when there is a problem which hurts us, we look for people to blame who are usually those who are foreign, of a different race and colour, a different tribe or religion or who are simply, filthy rich.

Now I wonder if those who have been peddling this miserable nonsense will go back to Councillor Molemi Rakgomo in gratitude because he alone, was willing and able to explain an historical reality that has been beyond everyone else.

Etcetera II



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