Nata Conservation Trust has woken up to a shocking possibility of losing its grip on the concession area CT/5 because no lease agreement has ever been signed since it was awarded to them around 2009/10.
The Chairperson of the Trust, Kerileng Garebolelwe, expressed grave concern over the possibility during an official handover of information technology equipment to Kgosi Letsogo Kgaswa and Nata conservation trust by Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) last Friday in Nata village. The trust was made custodian of the concession area with plans to set up campsites and lodges for tourists that would in turn benefit the community, none of which has materialized.
Garebolelwe explained that BTO was once tasked to help the trust attract investors for the proposed camp sites and lodges, upon which a certain Hedgerow Fund based in Britain was brought in to partner with the trust. Hedgerow proposed to set up two lodges in the Nata sanctuary, one for himself and the other belonging to the trust. Almost three years down the line Hedgerow withdrew from the deal and the contract was terminated. Efforts to get the lease signed by the trust proved futile on countless occasions in meetings with BTO officials. The trust escalated the matter with the then Minister for Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama to seek intervention for the same issue, which also left them disappointed. He however added that the trust intends on paying the new minister a visit with hopes of getting satisfactory answers to their concerns.
Earlier, BTO Chief executive officer (CEO) Myra Sekgororoane had said that Nata bird sanctuary was the original home of the Makgadikgadi epic before it had been moved to Sowa Town due to heavy rainfalls of 2016/2017. She added that despite the relocation of Makgadikgadi epic from Nata, BTO remains in a close cordial working relationship with dikgosi and the trust hence the donation of the IT equipment.
Sekgororoane told residents of Nata that consultations of whether to bring the annual event back to Nata are still ongoing. She also added that the community of Nata should be creative and come up with other events that would benefit the community indicating that BTO would be ready to support the projects. Responding to Sekgororoane, MP for Nata/Gweta Polson Majaga cautioned that the issue of relocating Makgadikgadi epic back to Nata must be concluded a s a matter of urgency, emphasising that such a simple matter cannot drag on for too long without a definite resolution. “Kgang e ya Makgadikgadi epic le race for rhinos, e kileng ya diragala ka ngwaga wa ditso, ke ne ke re le yone lo e hetse. Ke gore selo ha se padile a se pale. Ha ele gore e ta nna e direlwa ko Sowa, a e nne ko Sowa gore rona re plan gore ga re kake ra tsisa dipitse ga nna annual event. Ke lame botsadi. E seka ya nna kgang e ta gogang 5 years. Kgang e gare e hele batsadi ba thalosetswe mo metseng gore seemo ke eng, botshelo bo e ko pele, “he said.