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Expert shocked by lack of land-focused CSOs

Minister of Labour Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu worried by lack of anti-corruption NGOs

An expert on issues of land, Dr Fibian Lukalo who is the Director of Research and advocacy of the Kenya National Land Commission has expressed shock at the non-existence of land focused civil society groups in Botswana.


Dr Lukalo ascribes most countries’ progresive land policies and laws to civil society ‘s agressive and robust debates with the government.

In an enterview with WeekendPost on the sidelines of the Transparency International Meeting under the theme “Corruption in the land sector”,this week in Gaborone, Dr Lukalo said the civil society ‘s primary role is to keep the government on its toes and hold it accountable.

Botswana currently doesn’t have any Non-Governmental Organisations that advocate for land issues and right. The question of land has proved to be a mystery and an invisible monster in Botswana.The government is failing to meet the demand and the waiting lists are said to have gone over the population of the country. Many experts have said that the country is at crossroads.

The Kenyan expert has told the WeekendPost that while the government is the leader in developments,the civil society is the one that keeps the government on its toes to deliver on the promises.


 “They do not only keep the government under pressure but also offer alternative solutions to problems.They research on the issue and become under some instances the government’s partners in land development issues,” she said.

Dr Lukalo continued that several countries progress on issues of land were a result of the civil society’s enterventions and presence. “They watch every step taken by the government,every policy and laws and scrutinise it. The country has done so well on issues of HIV/AIDS because of different players and that can be the case with land as it can be with other matters,” she said.

The Director of Research and advocacy  of the Kenya National Land Commission went on to say she has learnt from Botswana government officials that the land policy is problematic.
 
“I told them that our land policy was driven by the civil society and that they are actually the ones who pushed for the creation of the Kenya Land Commission,” she said,further saying the civil society’s voice is a consolidation of the masses voices.

Who is to blame?

The NGO fraternity is of the view that it is true that there is a gap that needs a player to fill on the issues of land.For some time, the only active player has been Suvival International which has a narrow focus on the indigenous groups land rights. This group has assitsted in court battles ,some of which were successful.


NGOs however say that it is upon the mother of NGOs, Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) and the newly formed NGO council to identify the gap and offer suggestions without diverting from their core mandates.

The NGO council was formed as result of the European Union (EU) ‘s request for the establishment of an NGOs Council which will act as the funnel for EU funds to NGOs.The council would inturn draft a code of conduct for NGOs to encourage transparency and accountability. The Council also apportion the funds and have the powers to ban or blacklist NGOs demeed unworthy.

WeekendPost can reveal that the Minister of Labour Home Affairs who the NGO council falls under recently expressed discontent over the fact that the country doesn’t have an anti-corruption NGO despite huge evidence of corruption in the country.

The NGO Council Coordinator Mr Michael Mokgaotsi told WeekendPost that they took heed of the Minister’s words and will ponder on them.

Asked over lack of NGOas on land issues, Mokgaotsi said that is true that the there are itchy areas that have been neglected by the society, “it is not only land,we also have the issue of corruption and many others which do not have any body behind them despite been contentious issues,” he said.

He added that the Council ‘s role together with BOCONGO should identify the gaps and suggest to the society to form NGOs geared towards addressing such problems.

“Our intention is to hold a stakeholders meeting where we can look into these issues and hopefully come up with solutions,” he said, further adding that they would also have to do a lot of public education.

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