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Secure land title a milestone – Masisi

SECURE LAND TITLE LAUNCH

This week saw President Mokgweetsi Masisi and First Lady Neo Masisi receiving their first Secure Land Title (SLT) certificate from Ngwaketse Land Board. A huge milestone in Botswana’s Land Sector.

The new certificate replaces the old Customary Land Grand certificate which has been issued by Land Boards since 1970 following their establishment. When officiating at the launch of the SLT in Moshupa, Masisi highlighted; “My Government recognizes robust and transparent Land Administration as a tool for advancing economic development.

We are confident that these land reforms we are implementing will unlock the true potential and economic value of Tribal Land.”  He went on to state that “the reforms include: The review and implementation of the National Land Policy of 2015 as amended in 2019; Tribal Land Act of 2018; and, Deeds Registry (Amendment) Act of 2017.”

The event marked the completion of a journey that started in 2009 with a partner driven cooperation with the Kingdom of Sweden, called improvement of the Land Administration Procedures, Capacity and System (LAPCAS) Programme. The programme objectives center around ensuring successful social and economic development of the nation of Botswana based on efficient, effective and transparent Land Administration.

Masisi proudly mentioned that the new certificate was a realization of the 2019 BDP manifesto. He said; “Consistent with the Botswana Democratic Party 2019 election manifesto, we remain undeterred to fulfil our pledge to change the current land tenure system under the tribal land grant that limits and affords the majority of Batswana only use rights.

We will neither slumber nor sleep, until comprehensive legislative and policy review confers rightful ownership over pieces of land that Batswana own, according them owners’ rights to such land, which they may use as security to unlock opportunities”.

Land Boards are now obliged to register grants at Deeds Registry when they allocate land for both residential and business uses. This means that Land Boards will bear the cost of surveying and submitting to Deeds Registry, drastically reducing costs incurred by the citizen.

Masisi emphasized that Batswana will now directly use the Secure Land Title as security or collateral to access financial assistance from financial institutions. Thus, unlocking the economic potential of the Tribal Land.

In line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution; the reforms mentioned, are anchored into a multi-platform computer system called the Land information System (LIS). It is in this system where all land delivery processes take place until the final printing of the SLT at Deeds Registry. Masisi also challenged those that will be administering the associated IT support services and infrastructure to make “System e Down” a thing of the past.

When giving a historical background on the Land Management Sector. Masisi highlighted that it went through a number of stages. He said “in the pre-colonial era, we had a single land tenure managed by Dikgosi and we kept no land records. During Protectorate years, three tenure system was introduced. However, Tribal Land remained unregistrable while Freehold and State Land then known as Crown Land were registered in the Deeds Office located in Mafikeng by then.”

He jogged the memory of attendees stating that at independence, Botswana maintained the three-tenure system and in 1970, Land Boards were established through the Tribal Land Act of 1968 and Land Boards took over the management of Tribal Land.

Customary Land Grants still remained unregistrable and one had to convert their Customary Grant to Common Law Lease if they want to register at Deeds. The keeping of records remained a challenge due to lack of robust records management tools and systems.

These challenges are said to have been compounded by the fact that Land boards continued to allocate un-surveyed land and the Deeds Registry did not recognize Customary Land Grants as registrable rights. The manner in which Tribal Land was managed gave the impression that Tribal Land Grants, in particular Customary Land Grants were inferior to Freehold and State Land tenures.

Kgosi Donald Kgabosetso II Mosielele, raised a concern that the Tribal land boards takes delay in allocating land thus leading to mushrooming of squatters. In response the Minister of Lands and Water Affairs Dr. Kefentse Mzwinila said to accelerate the process of land allocations, the Ministry is still combing through waiting lists after the realization that most people who are on the list already have land which goes against their policy of allocating 1 person with at least 1 plot in tribal land and 1 plot in state land.

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The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.

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No end in sight for Botswana/ Namibia looming border row

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Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.” 

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