The hoarding of fish from Botswana to feed the dry-fish demand of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia has caused government to temporarily ban its exportation.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette Tourism Minister, Tshekedi Khama, said their investigations revealed that tonnes of dried fish were being ferried out of Botswana to other countries, “There is high demand of dried fish in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia where and they buy the fish at a very low price from this side, when they reach that side we understand it is sold at $50 each,” he said.
He said the ban came after the Fishermen Association admitted that it was failing to control the looting of fish. “We have not stopped the licenses, people can still fish but there is still no export of dried fish, we do not want a situation whereby Batswana will be left with no natural resources at all while foreigners have benefited a great deal,” he reiterated.
Khama however said the ban was meant for the proper control of fish exportation. “The export can continue but controlled by Batswana. There should be a set selling price unlike now when the buyer is the one dictating the buying price, they normally sell it at P5 each,” he said.
He explained that he did not want Batswana to suffer the same predicament similar to that of diamond industry, where foreigners benefit from the country’s resources in the face of rife poverty: “Batswana are not benefiting much from them but there are those who greatly enjoy the benefits, I don’t want that to happen with our fishes.”
The Botswana Gazette in collaboration with Oxpeckers Centre for Investigative Environmental Journalism last year revealed the influx of Congolese and Zambian fishermen in Lake Ngami, a development which worried authorities who expressed fear over resource depletion and environmental challenges as a result of mushrooming informal settlements.