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LAPCAS damning verdict is out

A damning report to the Office of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Housing has jabbed at the characters behind the failure of the Land Administration Procedures Capacity and Systems (LAPCAS) and praised its original intentions.

LAPCAS was conceived in 2009 in partnership with the Swedish Government. The intentions were to improve land administration in Botswana by impacting on procedures, capacity of personnel and systems.

According to a report authored a consultant once engaged by the Ministry, LAPCAS was to ensure that all plots in Botswana are surveyed, legally owned as verified by the Land Authority resolution, captured both manually and electronically; in short, where it is clear where which plot is and as to who it belongs to. There was also an intention to give each plot a unique identity.

It is understood that the programme was seen as the springboard for socio-economic development of the country through electronic based service delivery. LAPCAS was also linked to e-Governance which was developed to know where each individual resides, each plot in the country must be registered, surveyed and captured in the national electronic data base, it must be adjudicated; it must have a unique ID; it must have a location address; land information so generated must reside in a secure platform; with a system that enables interaction with all government departments and agencies.

In the LAPCAS manuscript, development planning was to become easy when all land information in Botswana has been entered into the national data base. It was envisaged that with a plot a national planner would know how many people reside in that plot, their age, education profile, number of livestock, incapacities, number of vehicles, number of plots they own, at home and elsewhere – and thereby facilitating equity and easy decision making as to where and when to intervene.

LAPCAS was aimed at enabling government to know at touch button where priority areas are, for instance in the provision of bitumen road, schools, hospitals, police posts, releasing more land for settlement expansion or even determining new political wards and constituencies. LAPCAS was to arrest voter trafficking among other things. Those who came up with the idea of LAPCAS thought rates collection will be eased, there would be no need for Population and Housing Census and Delimitation Commissions as this information will be readily available at any given time.

WHY LAPCAS FAILED OR IS LAGGING BEHIND

Reports indicate that the programme failed because it had the same Project Manager to lead the Programme starting with formulation of prototypes through implementation.

The current head of LAPCAS has been with the project for seven years now, since 2009. His approach was to be hands on in every component and in the process stifled creativity, spontaneity and ownership of processes. He was the means and the end. Consequently, he starved himself time to coordinate, to set timelines and demand results.

After the components were not load enough, he still maintained, to this day, his position as Director of Surveys and Mapping. He allocates himself juicy assignments mainly international travel to the exclusion of the Acting Director DSM.

Currently he is the Acting Deputy permanent Secretary at the same time retaining his two portfolios of LAPCAS Head and DSM Director. The permanent secretary was told that the danger of allocating the same officer a lot of functions is that if they are less effective and respected then the collapse of the intent and the vision is guaranteed.

The person leading LAPCAS presided over Ghanzi Land Board in 2001/2002 where he often recorded below 50 percent in performance assessment reviews. He maintained his trend to Kweneng Land Board, DSM and LAPCAS to this day.

The plan was to have all land in the Land Boards registered by 2016. About One million plots were to be covered in 2016, but this has not happened because only 10 percent of the proposed number has been covered in over three years. About 100 project officers were hired for this project on a three year term and the project budget end mid-2016 and this has come to naught.

Realising that the project was failing, the head of LAPCAS decided to transfer Land registration exercise to individual Land Boards Secretaries. The role of a national coordinator was removed such that the exercise runs without a pivotal person to provide direction, support and much needed supervision.

Land registration was poorly marketed as LAPCAS. Instead of talking to the bigger government intent of easy service provision, the protagonists went for the most resented purpose, of knowing where one resides, thus dealing with the means and not the end to the general collapse of the land registration exercise.

Land Registration needs to be revitalised and rebranded. It has to be given dominance over other components, without neglecting concurrency, as all other components are dependent on it as a basis for land information. It will become of no use if there is no land information to manage and inform quality decision making to advance delivery across all sectors of the economy.

Of the entire country only three localities have been addressed (given location addresses). About 90 percent of tribal land was unregistered in the last quarter of 2015. This publication learns that the LAPCAS team has failed to establish a land information centre, a project that was agreed upon some years back. The Land Information Centre was to act as a hub for all land information across the three tenure system.

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