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.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.