Kgatleng chiefs warn land board
By Tefo Pheage
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.
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According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
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BDP MPs demand review of Ministers performance
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To accomplish this, the party had requested that each ministry submit their reports to the State Ministry, as it was the most senior ministry. These reports were expected to be assessed at the retreat to evaluate service delivery and the implementation of the party manifesto.
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