Authorities have ordered for the temporary closure of the Ditshiping Poling Station just a month after it resumed operations.
Operations at the station were initially put on hold last year in December owing to a dispute between Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust and Ditshiping residents. Through their trust, Honey Guide Adventure Trust (HGAT), the residents however in May this year resumed its operations arguing that they also have the rights to operate in the area until both parties have set for a settlement.
But this has been short-lived after Ngamiland Deputy District Commissioner Boammaruri Otlhogile ordered for the temporary closure of the Ditshiping poling station.
Addressing HGTA and OKMCT members in Maun this week, Otlhogile said the station should be closed because it was opened without permission of OKMCT which is the custodian of the station, located within NG32.
“Permission is needed from OKMCT for HGAT to operate the station because it is within NG32, OKMCT is currently the custodian of NG32. Ditshiping is near the station but legally it belongs to OKMCT,” Otlhogile explained indicating that the station will be closed pending the District Commissioner’s office visit to the village.
He said operations at the station were commenced without OKMCT’s knowledge while they (DC office) were still in talks with the Trust to allow for Ditshiping residents to operate it.
Otlhogile noted that he had made a request for OKMCT to look into opening the station and have a common agreement with HGAT on how they will operate it. He indicated that he requested the two parties to inform him on their agreement before operations commence. This Otlhogile said has never materialised.
The conflict between the trust and the villagers began eight years ago after a group of 52 concerned residents of Ditshiping through their trust Honey Guide Adventure Trust (HGAT) launched a court case seeking permission for the village to break away from OKMCT. Their request was subsequently granted in September 2021 by Lobatse High Court Judge Justice Tebogo Tau.
In December last year, OKMCT wrote a letter indicating that Ditshiping was no longer a member of OKMCT, and as could not continue to benefit from the trust and has therefore with immediate effect suspended operation of the Ditshiping Mokoro station which is within the OKMCT’s concession.
HGAT Manager Nametso Nketso previously said that they decided to resume operations at the station because currently Ditshiping has the right to operate in the area until both parties have set for a debatement.
“HGAT has the same powers and responsibilities of the polling station as OKMCT,” Nketso previously said.