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- ODC passes motion for the relocation from Gumare
- Cllrs, MP argue Shakawe is the center of Okavango district
- They await response from Minister Autlwetse
- Council secretary says funds may not permit
Councilors of the Okavango District Council (ODC) have passed a motion to relocate the district’s headquarters from Gumare to Shakawe and they are awaiting response from local government minister, Kgotla Autlwetse.
In their recent session, eleven councilors voted for the motion while 7 were against it. ODC has already compiled all necessary documents and filed with the ministry and they are waiting for a response before the June council session scheduled for the 26th -30th June 2023.
The motion was tabled by councilor for Shakawe East, Lesedi Boy who argued that time has come for them to take measures that will improve the geographical feature of ODC as a new district following its upgrading to a fully fledged council.
In an interview, Boy believes that relocating the headquarters to Shakawe will therefore be one of the important decisions to ever be made in the district since the village has become the gateway to Angola and Namibia.
“Shakawe is the center of attraction and people in the Eastern panhandle residing as far as Gudigwa will be able to access services nearer to them rather than travelling more than 200 km to Gumare for that,” he stressed.
Boy highlighted that Shakawe has a bigger hospital in the name of Joseph Kavindama Hospital, a Police Division Headquarters, Revenue, Department of Transport, Botswana Marketing Board (BAMB) offices as well as the Okavango River Bridge. He added that Shakawe also accommodate more than 17 settlements or catchment areas while Gumare only has 12.
As per the Standing Order 75 under minister’s power, the minister may reject, vary or amend a resolution of the council considering the financial implications and public or national interests.
For his part, ODC chairman Gaepalelwe Ronald is of the view that the motion may be rejected on the basis of financial implication, since the minister may argue that it will be costly to relocate the headquarters from Gumare to Shakawe looking at the fact that new headquarters chamber and offices will have to be built in Shakawe.
“But in terms of public or national interest, I think the resolution can pass because it positively affects many people especially those that are from the Okavango East who travel more than 200 km to reach services in Gumare,” he also opined.
The chairman is also of the view that the motion mover had in mind the interest of the public and the nation adding that the numbers of councilors who voted for the motion as well represent the importance and magnitude of the motion.
Member of Parliament for Okavango Kenny Kapinga is also in support of the motion with him noting that he has long over the years advocated for that change. Kapinga is of the view that Shakawe is the center of the Okavango district therefore services will be accessed equally by both villages of the far end like Gudigwa and Habu.
The MP’s expectation is that the ministry will consider the motion so as to help all Batswana in Okavango.
Meanwhile the council secretary, Iris Sitayelo noted that the motion is good but the fact of the matter is that there are no enough infrastructures in Shakawe to accommodate the council and government workers in Shakawe as for now neither for the next two financial years.
“In my view, the government has no funds even in the coming NDP12 it cannot be able to source funds for new headquarters chambers in Shakawe,” she said.
As per the 2021 population census, Shakawe’s population stands at 10,589 while Gumare has 11,572.