In an effort to address the land question in the country, the Ministry of Lands and Housing has proposed that single Land Authorities be established; and both state and tribal land be vested on them, giving them full authority to manage all land across all tenures.
It is proposed that this be effected through merging, harmonising and rationalising the 12 pieces of legislation being the; State Land Act Cap 32:01, Tribal Land Act CAP 32:02, Acquisition of Property Act Cap 32:10, Land Control Act Cap 32:11, Immovable Property Act (Removal of restrictions) Cap 32:08, Fencing act Cap 33:01, Tribal Territories Act Cap 33:02.
The Ministry’s officials told Weekendpost that the “Land Boards and the private sector have been consulted on the proposed establishment of Land Authorities at local level and the consolidation of aspects of land related Acts into one Land Act; and all have endorsed the proposal.”
Currently, State land vests on the President by the State Land Act, CAP 32:01, and is administered on his behalf by the Department of Lands. On the other hand, tribal land vests on the Land Boards by the Tribal Land Act, CAP 32:02. The two institutions administer and manage land differently despite the fact that some aspects of land management and administration are similar.
Aspects of land management and administration that are noticeably similar across the three land tenure systems include State and Tribal land which are both handled by committees /Boards; State Land Advisory Allocation Committees (SLAAC) in state land and Land Boards in tribal land.
Physical planning requirements in the Town and Country Planning Act apply across all three tenures while similar conditions of grant e.g various uses of land, length of grant and development covenants and Policy requirements for allocation are mostly similar e.g non-ownership of a residential plot elsewhere prior to allocation, business plots in both tenures are disposed of through tender.
Notwithstanding the apparent similarities, the two tenures,the Ministry has said continue to be administered by two different authorities. “This segregation has inadvertently resulted in inefficient use of limited resources in the country. A typical example is in Ghanzi and Chobe Districts where Land Boards, though well-established around those areas, do not have authority to administer state land,” said the Ministry in a response to this Publication.
The segregation,has consequently led to the two tenures being managed differently through various legislation and policies notwithstanding the noted similarities. There are currently 12 pieces of land related legislations.
“The fragmented laws have resulted in inconsistent and sometimes competing policy objectives in administration of the two tenures. Today the inconsistencies are no longer justifiable,” the Ministry said.
These inconsistencies are at Land Registration where customary land certificates are not registerable at the Deeds Registry, whilst other tenures are at Land Transfer to non-citizens where Tribal Land Act provides that allocation to non-citizens requires the Minster to consent, whereas State Land Act does not clearly provide for the same.
They can also be found at at Land Allocation where the Tribal Land Act provides clear guidance on land allocation procedures whereas the State Land Act does not as well as at Compulsory Acquisition and Compensation where acquisition of property under the Acquisition of Property Act, applies to all other forms of land titles except customary held tribal land grants.
“It is worth noting that administration of freehold land is not vested on any government institution. However, it is nominally controlled by the Minister through the Land Control Act, on matters pertaining to consent on land transfer to non-citizens. This could therefore be the opportunity to streamline administrative procedures on freehold land (and other forms of tenure) under the control of Land Authorities,” the ministry says.
The Ministry is of the view that the establishment of the land authorities will as much as possible be in accordance with the current structures where they follow the tribal territorial boundaries. “In urban centres, urban land authorities would be created to do work currently done by SLAACs and Department of Lands and will follow current urban township boundaries. These Land Authorities will operate in accordance with the policy, strategy and regulatory framework as set by the Ministry,” they said.
According to the Ministry, they will also decentralise to them core operational functions currently centralised at the Ministry Departments to optimise the functionality of these authorities. “Their functions will therefore include; land allocation and transfer thereof, acquisition of freehold land on behalf of Government of Botswana, title deed and customary certificate registration, maintenance of title deeds records, monitoring of land use and surveying of land,” they say.
As the proposal will essentially transform the current Land Boards into land authorities, the Land Boards and current field offices will necessarily have to be capacitated to assume the new roles. In line with this, the Ministry is already engaged in a restructuring exercise and will in the process professionalise institutions responsible for land administration.
The task of enacting new land laws is by no means an easy one, not least because land has always been an emotive subject, eliciting views from people across the economic divide.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.