Most Community Based Organisation (CBOs), commonly known as Trusts are said to have realised diminished returns from the sales of their hunting quotas due to alleged poor management acumen, coupled with corruption practices.
The situation was so bad that most of these trusts sold their hunting quotas for at least half of what their normal value from the previous years had been. At the centre of this anomaly was a requirement for them to sell their quotas to citizen owned hunting companies.
A trend then allegedly emerged where the same companies, or atleast owned by the same people bought these quotas at seemingly the same prices, raising fears of possible fixing which deprived the communities of revenue.
University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute (ORI) Director, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa is one of those who subscribe to the thought that such factors as maladministration and corruption could be behind the slack in revenues generated from hunting quotas this season.
Mbaiwa pointed out that CBOs involved in trophy hunting who only generated half of what they got last year was a question of poor management, entrepreneurship and business skills among other factors.
“Some of these CBOs are not good negotiators but generally if at all it wasn’t some of these tricks they could have generated more money this year,” he expressed concerned in an interview.
Contrary to the notion that CBOs were badly affected by the pandemic, it has been reported that the organisations generated increased revenue during the period. This is both for those involved in safari hunting and photographic tourism.
“CBOs yes they were very much affected as well but there is a bit of an irony there if you look at the revenue which they generated during Covid. It is interesting in the sense that their revenue increased, they managed to generate income,” Mbaiwa stressed.
On the issue of alleged corruption which some of the CBOs are reportedly involved when it comes hunting quotas, Mbaiwa has called for investigations by the corruption busting agency (DCEC) to establish whether the allegations are true or not.
He reminded that by virtue of the tourism industry being a big business which involves large amounts of money, it also attracts all sorts of people some with ulterior motives.
“I don’t understand why all the procurement requirements were not applied to all this deals which CBOs made. All of a sudden you are told a certain CBO has signed a deal with certain investor but how they signed no body knows. So all these things which are done under the table or at night, did not serve the communities in any way therefore the DCEC should come in to investigate some of these allegations,” the professor said.
As for what can be done by the CBOs in order to maximise from the tourism industry be it photographic tourism or trophy hunting, Mbaiwa advised that there is need for the organisations to employ experienced management companies to professionally run business for them and market their products. Mbaiwa said it is not advisable for the CBOs themselves to negotiate business deals with business gurus while on their side they are not experienced on that profession.
“Why can’t they bring in experienced management companies and employ them to run the business for them. Bring in commercial business people, good negotiators, lawyers to negotiate the deals for them. Big companies in Maun got marketing companies employed to market their products and manage their businesses so communities can also do the same because they are all exposed to the same resource,” Mbaiwa advised.