Monday, October 25, 2021

Okavango Trust employees in limbo as Gov’t freezes funds

DITSHIPING:  The Okavango Kopano Mokoro Trust (OKMCT) manager Galethuse Manga has called on government to release millions of money owed to the trust so that they may assist local households.

The Trust has made it public knowledge regarding an outstanding payment of over P2 million which was made by Johan Calitz Safaris for land rental but government is yet to deposit to its bank accounts. At the same time, the government is also accused of ignoring a request to pay additional money amounting to P1 million paid by Gomoti Plains.

Manga said that the money, believed to be in the Ministry of Lands and Housing holding account, should be released immediately to allow them to continue the day to day running of the trust and most importantly pay staff, many of who have not been paid for months now.

The trust is made up of six settlements of Daunara, Boro, Ditshiping, Xaxaba, Quoqao and Xharaxao and sits on concession NG32 in the Okavango delta.

Manga noted that the trust was given the lease agreement of the area by Tawana Land board and had further requested they be allowed to spread their wings into NG 17 even though they were never responded to.

“We have written about four letters to BTO requesting for possible expansion to NG 17 but they have to date not said a word about it. We had hoped for a good working relationship for the benefit of the community, in vain.BTO needs to understand that we are not in any way intending to fight or make working with us difficult. All we want is for the organization to listen to us and give the most wanted feedback. On the other hand, we also don’t know how the Ministry of Lands and Housing reached a conclusion to be in charge of our monies while we are better placed to manage our finances”, said Manga.

When it was established in 1997, Manga said OKMTCT was meant to link Conservation Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) in the area for the improvement of the livelihood as well as personal development of beneficiaries of the six settlements, while also monitoring the condition of natural resources for protection and sustainable use, all of which he said are almost unattainable because of lack of funds. However despite all challenges, the trust has so far funded the construction of three log bridges at Robaletheka, Gomoti and another one going into Ditshiping.They have also funded the drilling and equipping of a borehole which provides portable water to residents of Ditshiping.

Minister Prince Maele had admitted in a kgotla meeting earlier this year that a number of community trusts have shown weakness in finance management and that there was serious misuse of funds by management at some trusts. He promised nevertheless that the funds will only be released if they convince government enough that they have the right and well trained personnel in management, so as to avoid situations whereby only a handful of people benefit while others suffer.

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