By Tebagano Ntshole, The Botswana Daily News
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has vowed not to rest until the elephant issue was resolved as Botswana had the largest population of the species in the world which had escalated into human-wildlife conflict.
Addressing a kgotla meeting in Gabane on August 27, President Masisi said he had solicited support from Kenya which did not materialise as the country and others recently voted against the hunting of elephants during the ongoing CITES meeting.
He said it was important for Botswana to benefit from its natural resources and therefore it was wrong for foreigners to dictate to a sovereign state how to live with wild animals which continued to kill Batswana on a weekly basis. The President said he was surprised that those who opposed elephant hunting were the same people who owned huge pieces of land in prominent tourism areas.
He said the remaining portion of the land would be reserved for citizens of this country. President Masisi said external trips were important for building cordial relationships with the global community as Botswana could not stand in isolation.
He said the purpose of his trips was to lure investors to the country saying some had started to bear fruits as evidenced by the recent visit of American comedian and businessman Steve Harvey.
During his visit to China last year, the President said he secured a P10.10 billion loan and a P340 million grant.
President Masisi said the loan would be used for infrastructural developments across the country aimed at facilitating trade with other countries. Among the planned projects is the Kazungula-Nata and Francistown-Maun roads.
On elections, the President told Gabane residents that casting their votes during the upcoming general elections billed for October would translate into preserving the peace and tranquility this country had enjoyed since independence.
He dismissed reports that he was waiting for a day that would favour the ruling party, saying everything would be done in accordance with the Constitution of Botswana.
The President explained that he would dissolve Parliament and then announce the election date which should be 60 days after the dissolution. He urged residents to vote for any candidate they wished adding that they should be prepared to accept the results. Dr Masisi said should he lose elections, he would vacate office and support whomever was elected.
He advised residents to listen carefully and weigh promises made by each candidate before making decisions.
President Masisi said since he took over the reins last year, he had ensured that government consulted Batswana. He said cabinet, MPs and all government officials had been told to constantly engage Batswana through different fora such as kgotla meetings.
President Masisi said he had also launched a fight against corruption vowing not to leave any stone unturned. Even those close to him would not be spared, he said.
He said laws and policies, among them the Land Amendment Bill passed by Parliament recently, had been reviewed allowing farmers to use half of their ploughing fields for other business activities.
However, such businesses should conform to environmental standards and be done in consultation with land authorities, President Masisi said.