- Gudigwa Village says it is left out of benefits
- People of Gudigwa want exclusive Controlled Hunting Area
Some communities in the Okavango region have filed a complaint against the government through the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (MENT) that benefits accrued from Controlled Hunting Areas (CHAs) remain skewed against them.
According to a savingram seen by this publication authored by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Abigail Engleton, the ministry built an Inter-Ministerial and Independent Task Force in May this year to investigate the complaints and grievances lodged by communities in Gudigwa Village. The Inter-Ministerial and Independent Task Force will recommend “interventions in the short- and long-term to remedy the situation”. The savingram shows establishment of the Task Team followed a meeting between Minister Philda Kereng and Kgosi Divere Ndando of Gudigwa on the challenges faced by the communities of Gudigwa.
Members of the team comprise one Ramogapi from the North West District Commissioner’s office as Chairperson, an economic planner from North West District Council, Kgosi Moalosi of Sankoyo from Tribal Administration, a land officer from the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs and one Jobe Manga from the Department of Environmental Affairs. The terms of reference the Inter-Ministerial and Independent Task Force are to investigate are the grievances of Gudigwa community about being denied concessions despite earlier government promises and a request for a Gudigwa-only Controlled Hunting Area (CHA). This will be through adoption of data collection methods such as focus group discussions, kgotla meetings and interviews with key stakeholders.
The Task Force will also assess the “issue that the Gudigwa community may not be benefiting from the Okavango Community Trust (OCT) currently while the benefits are skewed towards the other OCT villages of Beetsha, Seronga, Gonotsoga and Beretsha. OCT represents the 5 000 people of the five villages of Seronga, Gonotsoga, Eretsha, Betsha and Gudigwa and oversees the project and directs the flow of funds. The Task Force will recommend short- and long-term interventions to remedy the situation and ensure improvement of the livelihoods of the community.
Key deliverables include a trip report providing a summary of proceedings and a detailed report with recommendations for consideration by MENT with annexures such as pictures and attendance register for the meetings. Contacted for comment, the Director of Department of Wildlife and National Parks (NWDP), Dr Kabelo Senyatso, confirmed the existence of the Task Force but denied that it is in relation to trophy hunting. “The task team is addressing issues that the Kgosi of Gudigwa wanted the minister to be aware of and is not about purported conflict on trophy hunting that we don’t know anything about,” he said.
“The task is assigned by the minister and the findings are for her and not for public consumption. Only the minister can decide what information, if any, she may share and with whom.” But despite Senyatso’s denial that the grievances by communities in Gudigwa area has nothing to do with trophy hunting, the savingram from the ministry shows that they relate to Controlled Hunting Areas (CHAs). CHAs are administrative land blocks used by DWNP to allocate hunting quotas to community trusts which in turn sell hunting permits to local and international professional hunters.