The furore surrounding ownership of Moremi Game Reserve continued on Wednesday as Minister of Lands and Housing, Lebonaamang Mokalake told parliament that the reserve was under government’s control.
Although he admitted that the game reserve was established by Batawana, Mokalake said the manner in which it was administered and managed had been overtaken by events.
“As a result, the management and administration of tribal land and the flora and fauna in the Moremi Game Reserve are now managed by the Tawana Land Board in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks respectively,” he said.
In October last year, Kgosi Tawana Moremi who is also the Member of Parliament for Maun West approached the Office of the President seeking a reversal of the ownership of both the Maun Educational Park and the Moremi Game Reserve.
Batawana wanted the ownership to be handed back to Ngamiland Fauna Conservation Society which had been administering both areas on behalf of the tribe since 1963.
Batawana’s efforts to claim what they believe is tribal property suffered a heavy blow in January this year when a government directive ordered for some natural resources, including both the park and the reserve, to be taken under government control.
This week Minister Mokalake told parliament that he was aware that until 1979 when its administration was handed over to government, Moremi Game Reserve had been under the management of the Fauna Conservation Society.
He said resources in all Game Reserves and National Parks in the country are managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks while land authorities manage the land and are responsible for issuing land rights to interested parties.
MP Tawana Moremi had also wanted to know, in his parliamentary questions, if Minister Mokalake was aware of Regulation 20 (4) of the tribal land regulations which provides that: ‘As long as customary rights in respect of a piece of land subsists no grant of that land shall be made which would conflict with such right without the consent of their owner’.
In response Mokalake said the regulation does not apply as all rights and title over Moremi game Reserve vests on the Land Board.