Some four hundred and twelve residents of Gaphatshwa village will become the latest casualty in the land crisis bedeviling the country, as the Kweneng District Council plans to demolish 54 households at the village, soon to be renamed Metsimotlhabe Block 4.
WeekendPost has established that some residents in the area have already been served with letters this week by Kweneng Land Board summoning them to have vacated their long time households in 30 days while others who resisted the evacuation have been subpoenaed to appear before court.
This publication has gathered that the residents have been instructed to move so as to make way for impeding developments.
According to confidential minutes between the Landboard members and some Gaphatshwa residents seen by this publication, the inhabitants – who are not even squatters -are being pushed out as there is new layout that has to be put up in the area (to be named Metsimotlhabe Block 4) and all properties in that area will have to be relocated.
The Landboard is believed to have initially thought that some properties could be realigned to the new layout, but that thinking has since been abandoned and KDC now wants the residents to evacuate.
“Experts have advised that the existing structures may not meet the current development standards, the structures may be affected during construction by vibrations caused by construction machinery, safety and health issues and the whole environment of the residents will be affected during construction by noise pollution, dust hence the need for relocation,” Landboard officials stated as per the minutes of a meeting held on 9 February and on 21, 27, 28 April 2016.
According to the minutes some residents who were told to evacuate and resisted were informed that the layout is not yet serviced and there is no way they can remain within the plots in question. The landboard officials stated that “land right holders were consulted at kgotla meetings after that there were individual consultations. They were informed that their mokgoro will be assessed and compensated for in monetary terms for the developments made and be allocated an alternative standard size residential plot and be compensated for loss of right if any in monetary terms. They were also informed that the ploughing field and mokgoro has been assessed and cheques prepared.”
For their part, some residents indicated in the meeting that they were willing to give their ploughing fields and mokgoro to the Landboard but they have some demands as they had been using that land for their livelihood for a very long time. The residents argued that they were never consulted and only met with the assessment team who assessed their properties. They further posited that the value of a residential plot in that area is over P 200 000.00.
Furthermore, they stated that the money stated as compensation was not enough for them to develop the new plots. They insisted they “will want to be compensated with land for their ploughing fields instead of monetary terms”. They also state that they want reasonable hectares as compensation for the ploughing fields and therefore won’t relocate if their demands are not met.
The other alternative, they maintained, is that they can be given the number of residential plots that can be accommodated within their mokgoro, and also want to be compensated with land just like other land right holders who have been compensated with land recently.
Some area dwellers were however informed that they had been granted the right to use the land in question which is tribal and was not the right one. Landboard officials explained that “when tribal land is acquired, compensation is done in monetary terms as per compensation guidelines for acquiring tribal land. Practice of mpeelabana was long brought to an end in 2005. If there was an agreement with landboard before the practice was brought to an end that ploughing field owner will be allocated residential plots as part of compensation and that agreement has to be honoured.
The minutes indicate that the board resolved to apply for compulsory acquisition of the ploughing fields and the mokgoro in question as the allottee’s representative demands to be compensated in land is not in line with compensation guidelines for acquiring tribal land as per the Tribal Land Act.
According to the minutes, Land board Chairman M. Babitseng and his Vice J.O Matlhabaphiri together with six other board members being S.O Otukile, E. Kepaletswe, K. Mosinkie, O. Dube, D. Molatlhegi, U. Obotseng were present at the meeting. In addition Kweneng Landboard attorney A. Baikakedi, Principal Land Registration officer D. Rabai, Land adjudication officer I. Ditlogolo and board clerk M. Godirilwe also graced the meeting that was between landboard officials and some residents.
The Gaphatshwa residents also had a succeeding kgotla meeting on Wednesday this week addressed by the area Member of Parliament Pius Mokgware – during which they aired their land grievances, fears and qualms. Their worst fear, they revealed is seeing the yellow monster ravaging their buildings. Some even vowed they would rather die than see their structures being demolished.
The residents further told the MP that they will only surrender the land provided they are properly re-allocated plots, along with their children. Also, they highlighted, they don’t agree with the government/landboard compensation which is not in the form of adequate land.
According to the area dwellers the landboard wants to give some P25 000 for a few hectares which they protest is very low. Some were promised P9 600 for 3 hectares – which they out rightly rejected. For 10 hectares of land they insisted they want 4 hectares and for 4 hectares they argued 1 hectare would be sufficient in the compensation.
For his part, the Mmankgodi/Manyana law maker stressed that government has spelled out its intention to eradicate poverty and therefore its actions should speak out for that stance and not against it. Mokgware submitted that in an ideal world the developments should go to the people and not the people moving out for developments. “The tradition and land policy from way back is that if there are developments anywhere, people’s structures found there should be left alone and developments should find them there.”
He said he will establish a committee comprising of some residents that will meet Minister of Lands and Housing Prince Maele in a span of time. The committee will request the minister to intervene and order the landboard to refrain from writing area dwellers letters instructing them to vacate the area until they resolve the agreeable compensation.
They also want Maele to order the landboard to recognize the existing residents’ structures and not demolish them but instead incorporate them into future plans for the new Metsimotlhabe Block 4.
It is understood that the residents particularly in Gaphatshwa have been having unsettled land issues as far back as 2001, and some even applied to the land tribunal but still could not be assisted satisfactorily.
WeekendPost made efforts to contact Mogoditshane Sub landboard Secretary Anthony Bashingi, in which the area falls under, and he said he was not invited to the MP’s kgotla meeting and he further referred this publication to his superiors at Kweneng Landboard. Acting Kweneng Landboard Secretary Vincent Sekano was said to be out of the office on an official assignment.
However Principal Public Relations Officer Prudence Lekhupile said in terms of compensation which the residents strongly dispute, there is a standard reward put forth by the Ministry of Lands and Housing.
“If they disagree they are allowed to go back to the drawing board to negotiate the compensation fee. There is an established complaint procedure to follow,” she pointed out.She also said there is a certain percentage of land to be given to children whose parents’ land is being possessed.
According to the spokesperson they also compensate in monetary terms commensurate with the materials used at the ploughing field or land being possessed.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.