Residents differ on declaration of village as planning area
by Arnold Letsholo
Despite their collective grievance on underdevelopment of their village, Gabane villagers recently differed in thoughts when they heard during a kgotla meeting in the village that their village should be part of the Mogoditshane/Thamaga sub district planning area.
The area covers Thamaga, Mogoditshane, Gabane, Metsimotlhabe, Mmokolodi, Tloaneng and Mmopane.
“We understand that you are bringing developments in our village. We know that by these developments you mean infrastructure. Tell us then where you are taking our livestock to. Are you going to chase us away with our livestock?” asked one, Ratobela Leburame.
“You people have the tendency to use tribal administration as a stepping stone to execute your unfair resolutions to the tribe. You conclude everything on your own, there after you take the village leadership on board so that it appears as if the tribe agreed with you. You should just go ahead and do as planned, destroy whatever property you lay your hands on and do not pretend you consulted with us and we agreed,” said Boniface Makati, another villager.
He went on; “These Blocks-Gabane Block 1, and others, whom did you consult before zoning them?”
He said the actions that the council and land boards are taking have governed Gabane village so much so that only the hill is left for the tribe. The rest have been taken by Mogoditshane.
Several villagers stood to express displeasure on presentation by Justice Gabanamotse, Principal Physical Planner in Mogoditshane/Thamaga Sub District.
But another elderly resident, Lentswe Mogomotsi appreciated the council’s effort. He said the planning area declaration would fasten developments in the village. This was during comments and questions time.
In explaining the reason why the village should be declared a planning area, Gabanamotse said the Sub district prepared a 24-year physical development plan, which was approved by the Minister of Lands and Housing after expressive consultation with concerned villages.
“This plan is in use as a policy document in land allocation, planning and development; however it lacks legal instrument. Therefore declaring the village as planning area under the Town and Country Plan Act of 1977, Section 4 will give the plan a legal power to provide development guidance, control and enforcement,” explained Gabanamotse.
Declaration of villages as planning area, he said, would give the Kweneng District Council the planning powers. When people submit plans for approval and change of land uses to Council, policies and documents used to make determination on the applications are under the Town and Country Planning Act.
He said a lot has already been covered. The Physical Development Plans will follow the Development Plans boundaries. Applicants are submitting applications for building permission to Council because some services require approval from council, such as at banks for loan applications.
“Failure to declare these villages planning area would disadvantage lots of people in terms of economic diversification. We have instances where other government agencies disregard council advice because in non planning area, the Town and Country Act is non advisory. In areas that are already planning areas like Mogoditshane about 97 percent of council recommendations to the Town and Country Planning Board are adhered to,” he said.
As benefits, Gabanamotse said having a development plan gives an orderly and progressive development of land. During preparation of the plan, communities were consulted so the plans had taken communities’ interests and aspirations into considerations.
He, however, explained that in principle in planning matters the Town and Country Planning Act is supreme in declared planning areas over the Tribal Act that governs unplanned areas. But this does not mean that the Act can empower Council to expand boundaries between tribal administration areas.
He was responding to Makati’s fear that the Council wants to keep expanding Mogoditshane into Gabane.
A Councillor in the village, Ofentse Mareme, revealed in an interview shortly after the meeting that his tribesmen misinterpreted the Physical Planner.
“He was talking about something the tribe agreed to during past consultations. The Act he was talking about did not have a hand in expansion of Mogoditshane into Gabane. It only controls planning and development of land. Balete should embrace it as my fear is that other villages will overtake us developmentally if we do not endorse the declaration,” said Mareme. He said the Planner had indicated that consultations were made, only it has been a while (since the 1990s) that the last such consultations were made and people might have forgotten. The meeting was part of the consultation the council is engaged in in the area.