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BDC clash with squatters over land ownership

Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) is preparing to evict defiant squatters in a certain piece of land in Block 5, Gaborone following a lengthy consultation process that has not borne fruits, WeekendPost has learnt. The contested land is located behind Grand Palm hotel, and extends to the border which separates Block 5 and Mogoditshane.

BDC Head of Corporate Affairs and Strategy Boitshwarelo Lebang, has affirmed that the land belongs to BDC and that it is owned by a 100 percent BDC subsidiary, Residential Holdings (Pty) Ltd. She indicated that the corporation has supporting documents as proof of ownership. Lebang said the land, which measures 92.59 hectares in area was acquired was acquired in 2003 from the state.

BDC spokesperson stated that there was a compensation offered to those who voluntarily agreed to vacate the land but refused to disclose the kind of compensation offered to the affected people.  “The illegal occupants were consulted and given enough time to relocate the property. Some occupants vacated while others remained,” said Lebang.  

“The Corporation has had a series of engagement sessions with the remaining occupants to vacate the land as some developments were planned to take place on the land. These developments have now commenced.”  Lebang revealed that mixed use of developments are planned for the area and already a boundary wall construction has commenced. Some residents who spoke to this publication claim to live in fear as demolition of their property could leave them homeless anytime.

Some hopes that the matter will at least in the end be resolved in consideration of their welfare. There is however a contrasting view on the ownership of the land from those who occupy it. Some claim the piece of land used to be a privately owned farm. The occupants also indicate that they have occupied the disputed land in 1990, 13 years before BDC came into picture. In an interview with one of the occupants, Eba Sethole, she indicated that certain Mr Sefodi, who have since died used to own the land and sold part of the land to them.

“It is unfortunate that we bought the land back then when documentation wasn’t so popular, that is why only the initial owners can attest on our behalf,” she said. She further stated that when they first started residing in the land it was just a bush. Today the land is now a settlement with houses built in corrugated iron sheets and few houses built in modern structures. The 63 year-old Sethole stated that she is one of the first residents to dwell in the land, mentioning that their case with BDC emerged in 2003, when eviction threats started being thrown at them.

“We remained unshaken because we knew we own the land, court cases were piled on us but they just never bore any fruit; we are still here today,” said the defiant Sethole. Sethole said after BDC started threatening them, some residents moved to seek shelter elsewhere. Initially, according to Sethole, there were 49 occupants back then but now 41 remains, hoping for a positive outcome.

According to Sethole, BDC keeps calling meetings between them, their Councillor, Rhoda Sekgororwane and council representative’s and in all the meetings, BDC still insist the land is theirs. “Our councillor [Sekgororwane] has been on her toes since this case materialised, we are constantly slapped with warnings that we have 14 days to evict the place,” she said.  She said the last warning summoning them to evict the place was last year November which denoted that they had seven days to leave the place.

In her capacity as the sitting councillor for Block 5, Sekgororwane told this publication that, her concern is for BDC to resolve the matter considering how their eviction could impact the occupants. She stated that if the eviction is to materialise, the least BDC can do is to allocate land to the residents somewhere lawfully. “We have been going back and forth with this case; we have met with BDC head of corporate affairs and strategy officer Boitshwarelo Lebang and their lawyer Tebogo Sebego to try to find resolution to this matter,” Sekgororwane said.

Sekgororwane, who is a member of opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) stated that the last time she talked to Lebang and Sebego they requested the number of residents staying within the area, and their full particulars. She said she pleaded with them to remember to be a considerate and caring nation as per the national vision. The Councillor told this publication that the dispute is known by various stakeholder including Ministry of Lands, Local Government and some of the Head chiefs.

Rhoda said some chiefs are even willing to find land within their areas to allocate to the affected residents but only limited by lack of authority. The area which used to be known as Ko-Motseng does not have water supply and residents depend on buying water for survival.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
Balopi

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
BDF

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
VENSON MOITOI

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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