A majority of Batlokwa have finally given in and approved the controversial land seeking revised Tlokweng development plan which entails seizure of some land to implement projects despite the continuous shortage and depletion of land in the Batlokwa territory.
The revised development plan was drawn by the German based GIS Plan on what it is believed to be a multimillion pula tender. Efforts to convince Batlokwa to appreciate the revised plan failed on two occasions at consultative Kgotla meetings held on May 5th and 19th of this year. Most of the residents argued that they were in desperate need for residential land and would not want any sacrificed for the said developments which only benefit a select few. However, at the last consultative Kgotla meeting held on May 23, the residents appeared to have had a change of heart as the consultants came up with a better revised plan from the one presented twice before.
The latest plan has excluded the annexation of farming and communal grazing land. The plan also states that there will be change of land use by individuals without the approval of the council or the land board. Kgosi Gaborone told his morafe that he met with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services and the Director of Surveys to address the issue of land and came up with ways in which the projects will benefit Batlokwa as they avail land for developments.
“The land issue is a concern for our people, but I want to assure you that I have met with the ministry to see how we will fully benefit from availing our land to either government or other stakeholders to do projects and this will be outlined in a written contract,” said delighted Gaborone. He further pointed out that there will be compensation for those whose land will be affected by the plan and the compensation will vary from time to time as it will be calculated on the market value of the given piece of land.
Residents although divided approved the plan as they said it is now clearly explained. One resident, Otukile Matlapeng said, “The plan this time is well clarified and hopefully we are not cheated as it happened before and we are hoping the plan covers the area that it has entailed only.” Another resident, Abel Lekoko said the land board should be the one to implement the plan. He pleaded that majority of the projects such as integrated farming and horticulture should be localized and Batlokwa should have full benefits from such proposed projects.
That notwithstanding, some of the morafe did not shy away from stating their reservations about the plan. Some had walked away from the said meeting. Another resident, Ishmael Seitshiro said there is not enough land in the area and the remaining piece should be converted to residential land as opposed to using it for other issues which will not benefit people in the long run.
Another resident on the side-lines of the meeting added, “Our leader is somehow serving his own personal interests at the expense of Batlokwa. We know very well that he is wishing for a royal palace and this will be implemented in the plan that is why he is pushing for this so hard and we will regret giving away our land like this in near future,” said the emotional charged occupant.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.