Multitudes thronged Oodi Sub Landboard to apply for the few plots available
Some Kgatleng village chiefs have warned the Kgatleng Land Board to tread carefully on the issue of recent land applications and make sure that they select wisely.
The Kgatleng Land Board froze plot applications some years back under the popular catchphrase ‘Gagona lehatshe’ but recently invited interested people to apply for residential plots in the few villages in its area of jurisdiction.
Multitudes flocked to the district this week in persuit of their land ownership dream,bringing traffic on the Mochudi and Oodi roads to a standstill, prompting the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Botswana Police Service choppers and Special Support Group (SSG) to rescue the situation.
This publication has gathered that Kgatleng chiefs have expressed their reservation at the current system of allocating land and believe that the allocation process should be skewed in favour of original inhabitants of the areas.
In a brief interview, Kgatleng Land Board Chairperson Peggy Gaorutwe, confirmed this but was quick to say: “I heard and understood them well but I emphasised the need to follow the law as it is clear on that issue.”
Section 14 (1) of Botswana’s Constitution states, in part, that “No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, and for the purposes of this section the said freedom means the right to move freely throughout Botswana, the right to reside in any part of Botswana.”
It is understood that some chiefs expressed their concerns non-residents are usually uncooperative after being allocated land as they snub kgotla meetings and often appear unruly among other reasons.
Gaorutwe said the chiefs also told her that the inhabitants, particularly the youth, have always expressed concerns that the last allocations in Kgatleng were conducted a long time back after the board’s decision to freeze allocations. They also told the board chair that the same people hardly keep the land as they sell it within few months of allocation.
The land quota system is a system very much preferred by President, Lt Gen Ian Khama, something he alluded to in Kgatleng last year after the residents expressed their concern that some people “come from afar to take their land”.
According to Khama, a portion of land should be reserved for natives. Khama suggested that 70 percent should be allocated to the “owners of the land” especially around Gaborone while 30 percent should go to the “outsiders”.
The motion was initially brought before Parliament by South East South Member of Parliament (MP) Odirile Motlhale, but was shot down by unhappy MPs who argued the practice would sow seeds of tribalism.
The Oodi case and episodes this week exposed Botswana’s unpreparedness and lack of political will to resolve the land issue. The same issues and complications always arise and expose officials’ lack of vision, proper planning and the ability to respond swiftly and effectively to challenges.
Applications were thrown on the floor willy-nilly and it is unclear what selection criteria will be used. It was clear from the onset that the first-come-first-serve system had no place. Gaorutwe said they have a well-panned strategy on how they would deal with the applicants.
“They outnumbered our capacity, plans and expectations – brought down the fence and pushed their way in. No man would have controlled it,” she says further adding that they know what they will do.
The Tribal Land Act was reviewed in 1993 to make access to and ownership of tribal land democratic and inclusive. Botswana has unfortunately not been spared from tribal mistrust, tribal hegemony, tribal superiority and inferiority, among others. In his latest State-of-the-Nation Adress on land, President Khama said:
“The equitable and efficient distribution of land remains an area of both great opportunity and challenge. To address the shortage of serviced land, Government shall continue to undertake land servicing projects to promote economic development. The construction of Palapye Extension 11 land servicing project is expected to yield 3300 plots upon completion. In addition we will continue with infrastructure design projects for another eight areas around the country.”
He continued: “Government is also implementing additional measures that promote optimal utilisation and better management of our land resources through physical planning; Land Administration Processes, Capacity Building and Systems (LAPCAS) Project, which has so far resulted in the surveying of 234,525 plots countrywide. A project outcome will be the establishment of a land information centre as a collection of all land data in the country.”
Khama said as of now a total of 890,814 individual land records have been opened and secured, while Deeds Registry has captured 431,667 title deeds.
“Information collected through this project will benefit individual landholders as well as the country as a whole, since registered land titles can, for example, be used as collateral for loans,” he concluded.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.