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Land Board overrules presidential pardon

Tsolamosese residents calls for dissolution of the Landboards

Kweneng Land Board and Mogoditshane sub Land Board are acting in concert to override a decision by President Lt. Gen Ian Khama through the presidential pardon of 2008 which absolved the squatters of Gaborone and surrounding areas, in particular Tsolamosese, Mogoditshane and Nkoyaphiri from demolition of their presumed unlawful residence.  


Weekend Post has established that since the presidential pardon, many of the residents were not compensated for the land which was repossessed by the Land boards. According to the presidential pardon, Khama recommended that some residents should pay the Land board P5 000 and others P10 000, depending on their individual cases, in order to comply with the absolution.


The pardon is consistent with the Tribal Land Act, section 39, which states that: “any person who acquires or takes occupation of any tribal land without an appropriate lease or certificate issued by the land board concerned, shall be liable to a fine of P10 000.”


However indications suggest that Kweneng Land board and Mogoditshane sub land board are refusing to accept the fee from the affected residents, and in some cases, some have paid but are yet to be allocated by the land boards. The Tsolamosese and Nkoyaphiri residents maintained to this publication that the land boards also flouted the Kgabo Commission report which absolved some of them from any wrong-doing.


This publication has also gathered that some residents were allocated by Dikgosi (chiefs) in the past and therefore do not possess customary land certificates which are presented as evidence to claim ownership of the land. “We were not allocated plots by the Land boards and therefore have no certificates and some of us bought the land from other people,” one of the residents said.


The land board had however in some instances also demolished some squatters, and later Englishman Kgabo, who chaired the Kgabo commission was roped in to investigate the then alleged land maladministration.


The Kgabo Commission had recommended that those who unlawfully safeguarded plots for themselves should be evicted (and others were ejected) or if such plots were well developed they should be allowed to settle (depending on the jurisdiction of the judicial officer).


Some residents blame the Land boards especially after the latter assured them that those who were on the Kgabo Commission report would not be affected by the demolition. Tsolamosese residents have fought tooth and nail at the High Court with the Ministry of Lands but their efforts drew blanks.


WeekendPost has gathered that the Land board is said to be tapping on the loophole – whereby some residents do not possess land certificates – while not complying with both the Khama pardon and Kgabo commission reports.


“We are the victims of the Kgabo commission, and later we were pardoned by President Khama with a P10 000 fee and others P5 000 for the Land boards to provide us with certificates to the land, and, now the Kweneng Land Board and Mogoditshane sub Land Board want to ignore this presidential pardon – as this is not being implemented as such,” stated a resident of Nkoyaphiri who preferred anonymity in the highly explosive and sensitive land matter.


In a kgotla meeting at Tsolamosese addressed by Member of Parliament for Gabane Mmankgodi Major General Pius Mokgware on Wednesday, some residents called for the dissolution of the two land boards. “There seems to be a lot of corruption at Mogoditshane and Kweneng Land boards and they should be dissolved with immediate effect,” a fuming resident told the kgotla meeting.


He emphasised that some residents who applied after 2000 are already allocated and therefore by-passing those who applied as far back as the early 90’s. He rhetorically asked about the procedure of electing land boards: “who elects them and who are they accountable to?” The two land board officials failed to turn up at the kgotla meetings although they were invited by the Mmankgodi / Manyana constituency office thereby sparking anger among the agitated residents.


Efforts of soliciting comment from the Kweneng Land Board hit a snag as the secretary was said to be on leave while Deputy Land Board secretary Vincent Sekano and Public Relations officer Simon Paledi were yet to respond to Weekend Post inquiries at press at the time of going to press.


It is not the first time the land board finds itself being pitted against the wall for questionable land dealings, in the early 90’s the then Vice president Peter Mmusi set up a commission of inquiry in reaction to a litany of objections about the performance of land boards and impropriety regarding land allocation in Mogoditshane and other peri-urban villages.  


Although the Kgabo commission then implicated Peter Mmusi and the then Minister of Agriculture (and Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General) Daniel Kwelagobe for illegally acquiring land in Mogoditshane, a certain piece of land in Nkoyaphiri- they were later absolved by the courts of law.


Meanwhile Minister of Lands and Housing Prince Maele on Thursday told another kgotla meeting at Gabane that he will dispatch a select team to address the grievances as a result of Kgabo commission and flouting presidential pardon, including other concerns raised by the residents.  He assured the residents to have addressed the matter within six months.

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