Pandamatenga community and Chobe Land Board fight over land

01 Jul 2019

Chobe Land Board (CLB) and Pandamatenga community are currently fighting over allocation of 42 Small Agricultural Holdings at Mahabapi in Pandamatenga.

This was revealed by the Chairman of Chobe Land Board(CLB) Johane Chenjekwa during a press briefing in Francistown last week. 

The Small Agricultural Holdings are part of the Pandamatenga Infrastructure Development project which is meant to develop appropriate water control or drainage systems and access road network within Pandamatenga farms.

The government of Botswana entered into an agreement with the African Development Bank to finance the project

Chenjekwa said the tension was a result of the 2 500 hactre land that was developed under an agreement into Small Agricultural Holdings. He said the land was demarcated into 42 Small Agricultural Holdings ranging from 25 hectares, with the biggest being 113 hectares.

‘It was during the implementation of the Pandamatenga Infrastructure Development that it emerged there were already people whose rights where within the area earmarked for demarcation of the Small Agricultural Holdings. However the land board was ready to deal with that issue in an appropriate way,” he said.

“The land board had resolved that allocation of the 42 small holdings at Mahabapi should be done through public tender as opposed to Pandamatenga Community’s proposal that they be reserved solely for them which is contrary to existing legislation governing the Administration and Management of Tribal Land in Botswana,” Chenjekwa added.

He said the community has since contested the land board decision to allocate the farms through public tender. He further said the matter was heard by the Francistown Land Tribunal which concluded to dismiss the Community’s appeal and allowed the Land Board to continue with the proposed tender. Chenjekwa said the Pandamatenga Community has since appealed the decision to the High Court.

Touching on the Kasane- Kazungula Re-Development Plan, Chenjekwa said a number of key issues were identified relating to the implementation of this project. Among some of the issues identified, Chenjekwa said there was ambiguity relating to the scope of the project after its coordination was transferred to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism in 2015.

“The original scope of the project was transformed to that of developing a “Green City” and establishment of an agency to spearhead the project. This was a deviation from the original scope of the project which resulted in its implementation,” he said.

He also said individuals who had their properties affected by the project were aggrieved by the imposition of a perpetual Moratorium on Developments which restricted further developments on the affected properties. He said it affected the value of the properties as assessed in 2014 for purposes of relocations. On a positive note he said some achievements were made.

Chenjekwa said there is hope as the minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism Kitso Mokaila addressed the district leadership and council in February 2019 to elaborate further on plans to resuscitate the project. He also added that the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Kefentse Mzwinila and Chobe District Council shall resume joint coordination of the Project as originally envisaged.

“The scope of the project has now been increased, not just to cover Kasane Township River Front but includes the whole of the township and now it will be inclusive of Kazungula village and its environs. Affected properties will now have to be re-assessed as the valuation amounts arrived at in 2015 have escalated and that Moratorium on developments has since been lifted,” he explained.

Among other important issues, Chenjekwa said Chobe District Council has a twinning relation with Swedish Municipality for a Shoreline Development Strategy of which there is hope that it will influence Kasane-Kazungula Re-Development. He revealed that stakeholder consultations have been made by the representatives of the Vanesborg Municipality from Sweden where a detailed presentation and launch of the strategy was made.

“The general objective of the strategy is to address the issue of river front accessibility by the general public as well as further uplift Kasane. The Shoreline Strategy will further be incorporated into the Kasane Kazungula Re-development plan,” said Chenjekwa.