Following a five months halt of poling activities at Ditshiping Poling Station owing to the disputes between Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust (OKMCT) and Ditshiping residents, the station is now back to life.
Over 40 polers based at the station found themselves economically disadvantaged since December last year without any source of income as a result of their decision to exit from the trust. The trust suspended activities at the mokoro station as the village is no longer their member.
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 released a letter dated 16 December 2022 stating that as Ditshiping was no longer a member of OKMCT, it could not continue to benefit from the trust and has therefore with immediate effect suspended operation of the station which is within the OKMCT’s concession.
Confirming the new developments, HGAT Manager Nametso Nketso indicated that they have decided to resume operation of the station because currently Ditshiping has the right to operate in the area until both parties have reached a settlement.
“HGAT has the same powers and responsibilities of the poling station same as OKMCT, just like when going through a divorce of community of property, until both parties get their fair share of the properties they still have equal rights and responsibilities towards them,”Nketso said in an interview.
Nketso emphasized that until the final absolute decree is granted on the 8th June 2023 before Lobatse High Court Judge Tau, all properties she said owned by OKMCT benefits both Ditshiping and other OKMCT beneficiary villages.
The main reason to resume operations Nketso said is to revive livelihoods of Ditshiping villagers indicating that poling is the only profession and economic activity in the area. She further indicated that they have also received calls and emails from Safari companies who specifically preferred to take their clients to the station.
Nketso noted that they are operating through a license issued to OKMCT with Dtshiping being part of it. She added that until the separation is final they currently have 100% ownership of the license.
Meanwhile Keneetswe Mange, a woman who relies on poling to care for her family was among the first villagers to have clients last week Friday. She was excited to have an income after so long.
She indicated that with the money she receives she will be able to re-activate her insurance policy which she says have not serviced since last year after activities were suspended at the station.
“Through poling my parents managed to take care of me, I am also taking care of my children through it. I have been taking them to school, taking care of them through the money I make with poling so I am happy to be back at work,” Mange said.