They didn’t want us near their European mission – Saleshando

Concerned: Leader of BCP Saleshando feels that its legislators were deliberately left out PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Concerned: Leader of BCP Saleshando feels that its legislators were deliberately left out PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

After a high-powered Botswana delegation led by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu completed an European tour where they fought against anti-hunting legislation, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) feels that its legislators were left out.

The Trophy Hunting (Import Prohibition) Bill was passed by the UK’s House of Commons at a second reading on Friday. A ban on importation of hunting trophies could affect areas like Ngami and Okavango where local communities live near and with wildlife. The area is dominated by the BCP Members of Parliament (MPs). This week the party president Dumelang Saleshando outlined during a press briefing that the government chose to sideline them in this important mission. He said instead of uniting with the opposition to form one voice, the government has since excluded the legislators whose constituencies will be mostly affected by a ban on the importation of hunting trophies. “They don’t want us near this because we are the opposition. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), after confusing the international community about its position on hunting, is now trying to divide the country on an issue that our communities are fully reliant on. Our people are wholly reliant on proceeds of trophy hunting than on government,” he said. He also said communities in some areas depend on the money from trophy hunting to have access to water, education and medical care.

“In essence, this trophy hunting issue is not a small issue but it is vital,” he said. Saleshando said what they have decided to do as BCP is to get their communities to speak out about this issue. “The communities are the only ones who can speak louder, therefore we will be engaging with them. Their voices can reach various Embassies and I don’t think we need to transport them to Europe,” he indicated. He said as they mount this campaign, people will understand the burden carried by communities that live near or with the wildlife. Saleshando said the conservationists should understand that the best conservation is when the communities in these areas see economic benefits of living alongside animals with the latter not only seen as a burden. “We pride ourselves with wildlife and natural resources and we should allow communities in Maun, Okavango and Ngami constituencies to voice out their concerns in America and Europe, away from these high level boardroom meetings. We will be helping to amplify these voices,” he said. Saleshando stated that Botswana is responsible for the messy situation it finds itself in. He said Botswana does not have a principled policy position on hunting.

Editor's Comment
Let’s get the constitutional amendment right

Their concerns highlight the need for meaningful dialogue between government and relevant stakeholders to ensure the best interests of the country are served.This was in addition to other voices from opposition politicians and civil society organisations.The stance underscores the importance of citizen participation in the constitutional amendment process. The AFM rightly assert that such weighty matters demand thorough discussions to reflect the...

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