Wednesday, 03 August 2011 12:00

Incredible view from the bar

A joint venture partnership between Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust and the Ngoma Management Company has resulted in a potential 5-star tourist haven, Ngoma Safari lodge. The lodge, which is yet to be graded, is said to have taken only six months to build, costing P11.5 million. It was officially opened by President Ian Khama last week.

Khama stated that Ngoma was a testament of citizens having a hand in tourism. “This project is proof that with the right resolve, commitment, vision and business discipline, our communities and citizens can indeed graduate to ownership of top-end tourism projects.” He further stated that the official opening of the Ngoma Lodge “is testament to the tangible outputs of our belief in what can be further achieved. Achieved not only in growing our national tourism sector towards the much needed economic diversification, but also clearly demonstrating how we can resolve the dynamics often seen as too complex in strategising ownership between our citizens and foreign investors.”

Khama took a swipe at critics of the government’s introduction of CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resource Management) Policy. “Of course this is becoming a general trend such that when one introduces something new, others often apprehensively dwell on finding the reasons why it cannot work, why it will fail, and most often doing so without suggestion any positive alternatives,” Khama said, while also noting his dissatisfaction with other Community Based Organisations (CBOs), who have “not (made) any other noticeable contribution to the national economy nor any meaningful and sustainable upliftment of our communities’ standard of living.”

He continued to barrage them for abuse and misuse of funds thus government deciding to transfer most of CBO project accounts to District Commissioners.

Some of the Ngoma investors own another safari lodge a stone throw away being Muchenje.

A memorandum of Agreement between Ngoma Management and CECT was signed with the assistance of Botswana Tourism Organisation in March 2010 for the commencement of the up-market lodge. The Ngoma Management is part of Africa Albida Tourism which owns other establishments in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

None of the officials at the opening were, however, willing to reveal the profit share between the community and the group of business persons. The minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, while also unwilling to share such contractual information, stated his satisfaction on how the partnership will divide the cake amongst themselves without saying how they plan to protect the community from any possible scrupulous business dealing.