Okavango tourism concession dispute reverts to Land Tribunal

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The dispute over a tourism concession area in the Okavango Delta known as NG27 has been withdrawn from the Gaborone High Court after the parties agreed to take it back to the Land Tribunal.

Advocates for the litigants made an agreement through a consent order to transfer the matter from the High Court to the Land Tribunal following issues that aroused when the case was about to resume before Justice Bengbame Sechele. The case was filed by Lodges of Botswana who wants a review of a decision of the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) and Tawana Land Board to reject two tenders it submitted for the tourism concession area.

The parties agreed this week that the matter will be dealt with better at the Land Tribunal and successfully sought the approval of Sechele. The case will now go back to the Palapye Land Tribunal.

“I agree that the matter would be better placed off at the tribunal and I am worried that a lot was used in terms of filing all the documents, and as such, I would make an exception that whoever needs their documents can have them back, we normally remain with the files but for this case, we considered a lot was invested,” Sechele said.

The dispute over the sort-after piece of land in the Okavango Delta has been going on for a long time. It has been heard at the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Land Tribunal.

The recent application comes after BTO rejected two tenders from Lodges of Botswana who have been occupying the disputed piece of land for over 30 years.

Lodges of Botswana went to court to challenge the rejection of their tenders arguing that it has more years to the lease and that BTO had no right cancelling it.

However BTO argues that Lodges of Botswana could not hold on to the land without giving others a chance. The BTO insists the lease ought to be cancelled to give others a chance at the tourism business.

Lodges of Botswana’s two rejected tenders reportedly fell below the 70 percent pass mark in an evaluation exercise carried out by BTO in 2012.

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