Lands and Water Affairs Minister Dr Kefentse Mzwinila says he is not aware of any communities within Moremi Game Reserve facing challenges of plot allocations for residential, business and ploughing fields.

He stated that Moremi Game Reserve is a protected wildlife area where communities are not allowed to settle, hence the issue of plot allocations does not arise.

He explained that the issue of tribalisation and or retention of Mababe as State land has been a subject of discussion where initially the community decided that it be retained as state land.

The minister told Parliament that after passage of time the community of Mababe sent a delegation indicating a change of position.

The minister was asked to brief Parliament on progress made in addressing various challenges impeding communities in Moremi Game Reserve from accessing residential plots, business plots and ploughing fields.

“They were subsequently addressed in a Kgotla meeting in September 2022 at which they resolved that Mababe be tribalised. This new position by the community is receiving our attention and assessment as the Ministry and Government at large”.

Mababe is located in a Wildlife Management Area which is an ecologically sensitive environment hence a change in its administration and management requires that all matters be addressed before a decision can be reached, Dr Mzwinila said when responding to a question in Parliament.

He said it is worth noting that since Mababe is in a sensitive area, various stakeholders are to be engaged, which includes the community, district structures, and other Government departments, and this has taken longer than anticipated.

According to Dr Mzwinila, Government is committed to ending the Mababe land tenure and its associated issues and once all matters are resolved, a decision will be made.

He revealed that following the cessation of allocation of plots by Tawana Land Board in Mababe, the Land Board was directed in March 2020 to issue plots certificates and also facilitate all land transactions for the plots they have allocated in Mababe.

Therefore, all those who have been allocated plots by the Land Board would be able to use their certificates for all transactions and legally binding agreements including access to utilities like water and power, the Minister said.

The minister indicated that preparation of layout plan for Khwai settlement and approval of the layout plan for Sankoyo have been deferred by the North West District Council Physical Planning Committee pending the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

“Due to the environmental sensitivity of Khwai settlement compared to Sankoyo, it has also been a challenge to identify a site for expansion of the village hence the decision to carry out a SEA to assist in the identification of suitable areas.

“Therefore, the allocation of residential plots in Khwai and Sankoyo settlements have been on hold pending the completion of the SEA.”

The minister added that the exercise was initially delayed to start due to lack of funds to carry out the SEA by the North West District Council, but funds were later disbursed to the Council for the project by the Land Board.

He stated that the North West District Council in 2021 awarded tenders to three companies to undertake SEA across 23 villages in the District to facilitate allocation of plots including Khwai and Sankoyo.

“Two of the successful contractors including the one covering Sankoyo and Khwai failed to perform to expectations and were subsequently terminated in 2022 by the District Council.

“The District Council re-advertised the services and the tender closed on the 3rd August 2023. The evaluation of the tender is ongoing at the District Council.

“Therefore, the issue of why Sankoyo and Khwai communities have not yet been allocated plots can best be explained by these circumstances,” Dr Mzwinila said.