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- District Commissioner intervenes and calls for calm
- Village divided over decision to exit OKMCT for Honey Guide
- The breakaway was granted by Lobatse High Court in 2021
- Some residents want out to re-join OKMCT
Ditshiping, a settlement in Okavango Delta is divided over the use and benefits of natural resources following a decision by some residents to leave Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust (OKMCT).
Eight years ago a group of 52 concerned residents of Ditshiping through Honey Guide Adventure Trust 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.
Following the court order, OKMCT subsequently seized provision of services to the residents of Ditshiping such as access to use of borehole, the settlement’s mokoro station and general economic assistance consequently living them stranded and without source of income. The station was the only economic activity in the area.
It was this decision that now threatens to divide the village with some members, now wanting out and back into OKMCT. Around 79 residents who are said to be against the exit made an application to the High Court to overrule the previous ruling which ordered for Ditshiping settlement to part ways with OKMCT. The residents however lost the court case on the 3rd of this month with costs fuelling the division between them.
It is the division amongst villagers that have prompted the District Commissioner Thabang Waloka to intervene.
In an interview, Waloka confirmed that some residents have on numerous occasions came to his office complaining that they did not agree to the decision by the 52 others to exit OKMCT. He said the residents complained that the decision has left them struggling as the Trust used to assist them with livelihood necessities.
This led to the DC calling a kgotla meeting in Ditshiping to hear both sides in an effort to call for order. Waloka called for consultations among the residents and effective communication in a transparent manner on all decisions made. He added that it was imperative to ensure that all decisions that affect the whole community are made at the Kgotla.
“As court cases progress, give feedback to residents and conduct thorough consultations with the community to keep them well informed,” Waloka pleaded.
During the kgotla meeting one of the residents, Garebatho Monare who is against the settlement exiting OKMCT complained that they do not know how they will make a living after leaving the trust. She further indicated that those who wanted the breakaway have not shared any road map after the move.
Monare noted that to her view the trust has been of great importance to them highlighting that OKMCT made sure they had access to clean drinking water and it offered them transportation to and from Maun where they access other services.
For his part Meshack Boikaego who is among the 52 residents who filed for the breakaway said the decision was a consensus, but claimed to be surprised by the sudden change of heart by some who want to rejoin OKMCT.
He has since put the blame on OKMCT for the decision to stop providing services for the villagers, which he feels is in contempt of court judgement which emphasised that an audit was supposed to be made in order to share assets.
“OKMCT has cut provision of services before sharing of assets and this is a deliberate move for us to rejoin them hence some villagers are already confused.” Boikaego noted.
He indicated that they have also received reports from some villagers that OKMCT managements has been making rounds in the village recruiting people to re-join the trust. Boikaego indicated that this has subsequently resulted in the divisions.
However, OKMCT board chairperson Galetsose Manga has said the audit is currently underway since last week.
Manga refuted allegations that OKMCT has been recruiting residents and he further rubbished allegations that the trust has financed the 79 residents of Ditshiping who recently challenged a court order for Ditshiping to part ways with them.
Meanwhile Honey Guide Adventure Trust General Manager Nametso Nketso has explained that the trust is currently operating through seeking donations from various business entities. She added that the community also contributes towards financing the trust.
She confirmed that the trust is run by 10 board members from Ditshiping village including some from the 52 concerned parties who fought for the exit of the settlement from OKMCT. The Trust is however not a member organisation of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which gives guidance on community-based natural resource management in the district.