Maun — The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has established a standing committee to assess proposals for establishment of new settlements as well as coordinate provision of infrastructure and services.
North West District council secretary, Mr Motlogelwa Thuso said this in response to councillor's request for a waiver to recognise Ditshiping, situated right in the heart of the Okavango Delta, as a settlement.
He said the committee would also serve as a technical advisory structure to the minister and that its first meeting would consider proposals for recognition of settlements from various districts.
Mr Thuso explained that the process towards a cabinet decision on the proposal would also follow.
Some councillors welcomed the ministry's response saying it was promising even though the issue had been delayed.
The issue of Ditshiping dates back to 2017 when the council, following a resolution, submitted a recommendation to the minister requesting a dispensation for the recognition of the place as a settlement.
The request was rejected on grounds that it did not meet National Settlement Policy requirements.
In its response, the ministry had stated that Ditshiping should neither be gazetted nor upgraded to village status considering all facts among them, its location within a wildlife management area which was also and a World Heritage Site.
The response further indicated that Ditshiping was a seasonal settlement based on hunting.
It emphasised the importance of allowing tourism activities/development so as to improve the livelihoods of the people of Ditshiping.
Councillors had argued that the response did not address their request and further requested the relevant authority to revisit the issue.
They requested a waiver to gazette the settlement on compassionate grounds since residents had difficulty accessing services due to their living in the Okavango Delta.
On other issues, the council requested Tawana Land Board, in consultation with other stakeholders, to reconsider the distance required between borehole allocation points.
Councillors were informed that the land board had been advised by the ministry that the six-kilometre radius for boreholes was a provision of the National Policy of Agricultural Development and therefore fell under the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security's mandate.
Mr Thuso said the board had indicated that it could therefore not deal with the council's request.
He said the council had since been advised to redirect the motion to the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security.
Meanwhile the council has resolved to send a delegation to the minister of Transport and Communications to present their concerns with regard to the poor conditions of roads in the district.
They complained that the roads had been neglected for so long and were posing a serious danger to the people's lives.
They cited the Gumare/Shakawe road which they said had big potholes all the way and yet it was used by individuals and public transport on a daily basis.
The chairperson's explanations that the said minister paid a visit to Maun recently to assess road conditions and see how best resources could be distributed fell on deaf ears.
Councillors insisted that a delegation be sent as the issue needed urgent attention.
Source : BOPA