Whilst more than 30 percent of the country’s employable population is on the streets looking for jobs, atleast 870 096 Batswana are waiting to be allocated a piece of land. This is close to half of the country’s inhabitants based on the 2011 census which perked Botswana’s populace at 2.2 million.
In some areas, the waiting list of land seekers goes as back as the early 1990’s according to minister responsible for land – Price Maele,
“The land delivery process is lengthy and costly and in some cases results in perceived or real delay in allocation of plots to Batswana”, says Maele.
Maele was on the hot seat this past week during the just ended Parliament’s Minister’s question time which happens every Friday morning when the sessions are on.
Nata/Gweta Member of Parliament Polsen Majaga had brought up the “land allocation” theme which forced Maele to explain the delays that land authorities across the country make to allocate plots to thousands land seekers.
To date, Mogoditshane, – a peri-urban village located on the western side of the capital Gaborone is reported to be having over 140, 000 applicants dating back to 1994.
“This process involves acquisition, planning surveying, servicing prior to allocation”, continued Maele.
His response was however not satisfactory to a number of MPs, precisely those across the aisle and notably ruling party legislature Bagalatia Arone of Okavango constituency.
Arone suggested that it high time that the government reconsider on its decision to use the “one blanket fits all” approach when it comes to land allocation. He said there is need for flexibility when it comes to change of land use in areas such as Okavango and Ngamiland.
In his earlier response, Maele had stated that most land in Botswana is already occupied and zoned for different land uses.
“It is therefore necessary to acquire land from landholders to allow for village expansion and planning the land prior to allocation. This process is very lengthy as land holders often cite insufficient compensation offered especially in the peri-urban areas”, Maele said.
Despite the outcry by Batswana regarding the need for land, and the admission by Maele that land as a factor of production and a commodity is central to the socio- economic development of the society and the economy, the allocation of, it seems to be slower than desired.
To date, the rate of allocation at both tribal and state administration level remains slower than the snail’s pace, with no minimal prospect for improvement.
“Availing land to support the national economic development programmes and meet the socio-economic needs continues to be a challenge due to the competing demands and the high costs of land servicing,” admitted Maele in March 2017.
As part of his admission in March 2017, Maele begged Parliament to give his ministry money which he would use to service and allocate more land.
“As Parliament you have the powers to give me more money to service the much needed land. If you do, then I will be able to allocate many of the people out there land,”
Still in March, Maele maintained that he cannot allocate un-serviced land to the land seekers as it usually results in repossession due to failure to develop it by those who have been allocated.
“I must hasten to indicate that not all the applicants in the waiting lists are eligible for allocation”, Maele said this past Friday.