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.
Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.
The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.
However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.
Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat. “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.
This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.
“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.
“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.
In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?
“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.
While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.
Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.
His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.
The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.
His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.
Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.
Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.
Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).
“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”
The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).
When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.
With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?
Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.
The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.
The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.
Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.
Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.
“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.
Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.
Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.
The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.
Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.
One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.
The Botswana Climate Change policy draft of 2021 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng for consideration and adoption.
The policy attempts to indicate the country’s environmentally conscious development agenda as Substantial resources are being dedicated to research and policy efforts to mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Kereng indicated that Botswana is not immune to the impacts of climate change and it continues to delay the country’s national development efforts and that the key economic development sectors dependent on the climate system have recorded declines over the years due to the variability of the rainfall and other climatic conditions. Experts elsewhere have pointed out that lack of consideration of population dynamics hampers the development of stronger, more effective solutions to the challenges climate change poses – hopefully this policy if effectively implemented could partly answer this question.
Kereng underscored that sectors such as agriculture, water, bio diversity, health and tourism have suffered the most and the consequences of these have contributed significantly to the decline of livelihoods in Botswana especially in rural areas.
To respond to the changing climate, Botswana has embarked on sectoral reform such as climate smart agriculture, poverty alleviation initiatives, building resilience on the economic productive sectors, diversification of tourism for the improvement of livelihoods and income generation, local economic development and sustainable environment.
The efforts require a coordinated mechanism that will provide an enabling environment for an integrated approach to the formulation and implantation of development plans and socio economic related policies in Botswana that are responsive to the changing climatic conditions.
Minister Kereng explained the draft policy is characterized by an inclusive and integrated approach to social, economic development and governance modalities that would enable the country to achieve a sustainable development pathway. It provides opportunities for improved livelihoods through creation of green jobs, development and transfer of relevant technologies as well as creation and ease of access to both local and international markets. It also commits the government, private sector and non-state actors to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures that would facilitate sustainability and building of resilience of all sectors.
While Members of Parliament were trying to comprehend the policy, this publication got in touch with Green Botswana to solicit their views on the policy draft. Ms. Sela Motshwane, the Founder of the Trust highlighted that “the Climate Change policy was meant to be read in August 2019. It is long overdue, and we all need to see it and understand it in full.
I understand the current budget does not allow for a full implementation- but I could be wrong. More funds could have been allocated since. I think generally, Batswana need to understand fully what this means to our daily lives. I believe the true understanding is by policy drafters and the Ministry of Environment only.”
In the same vein, Green Botswana Trust took to the streets to provide a community solution to climate change on World Health Day (Wednesday). Green Botswana held a “Free Trees for Babies” at Extension 2 Clinic where fruit trees were gifted to parents, expectant mothers, 25 health workers, police officers and the prison officers who had accompanied prisoners to the clinic.
Motshwane said: “The decision to do the “Free Trees for Babies” by gifting fruit trees was to raise awareness to our imminent food security issue as stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr. Thabang Botshoma and encourage the general public to plant a tree so that we can reach our SGD Goal 13 : Climate Action. The trees gifted are to be named after the baby recipient”.
Green Botswana is calling for the urgent action from government and members of the public to create a culture of community accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. To achieve the 2030 Paris Agreement Pledge, it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach goals.
Parliament resolved to adopt the Botswana Climate Change Policy, 2021.