A battle royal is looming among the Botswana Housing Cooperation (BHC), the Kgatleng Tribal Authority and the Kgatleng Land Board after the BHC was allocated land which lies between Bokaa, Morwa and Pilane in Kgatleng District.
The residents of Bokaa and Morwa villages, as well as the Kgatleng Tribal Authority, are planning to stop the BHC from constructing about 500 house units, work upon which is expected to commence this year.
“As the tribal authority, we are not going to allow BHC to be awarded any land in Kgatleng until our children are allocated residential plots,” declared suspended deputy paramount chief of Bakgatla, Kgosi Bana Sekai.
He questioned the move by the Land Board to award land to BHC when they cannot allocate land to residents whose applications have been on the waiting list for years.
“As the tribal authority, the Land Board informed us casually and to us it was already a decision taken,” said Sekai, adding that a delegation from Morwa had already lodged a complaint to the tribal authority to intervene.
Sekai noted that even Bokaa residents are expected to lodge the same complaint soon.
The Public Relations Officer for Kgatleng Land Board, Dominic Shaba, confirmed to Sunday Standard that “the Kgatleng Land Board awarded about 52 hectares of land to the BHC on the 5th of November 2010”.
He further stated that about five pieces of ploughing fields belonging to different individuals were identified between Bokaa, Morwa and Pilane and only three land owners of the said fields were compensated; one declined the offer and the fifth was never located.
Shaba said consultation regarding the land allocation to BHC was done and it emerged that some residents in the three villages did not want BHC to be awarded land. However, efforts to explain the importance of such a move were also made.
Shaba added that even the Kgatleng Tribal Authority is aware of the allocation of land to BHC.
He emphasized that the Tribal Authority in Mochudi was addressed during district leadership forum in which the paramount chief of Bakgatla was present.
He further said after the consultation was done, “BHC was given a special treatment on the allocation”.
Mookodi Seisa, the BHC spokesperson, confirmed the land allocation.
He said about 500 houses, as well as flats, are expected to be constructed as soon as they have secured some funds for the project.
He said BHC has already compensated land owners whose land was repossessed, adding that the exercise took place through the Land Board.
We asked how much money the BHC spent to buy the land.
“I cannot disclose to the media the amount of money that the company has paid to the individuals,” responded Seisa.
He said once the project commences, job opportunities will be created for the locals.
He appealed to the public that they should not perceive BHC as an enemy to the society, but a company that is there to assist them in terms of property ownership and shelter.
Former Morwa Village Development Committee chairperson, Moraka Tau, revealed that the VDC does not at all endorse the allocation of land to BHC.
He asserted that the Kgatleng Land Board has reportedly suspended allocating land in Morwa because “there is no available land in Morwa” but all of a sudden, the BHC is allocated land when ‘there is no land’.
“We can only endorse the allocation if the Land Board allocates land to our children who have been on the waiting list from as far back as the year 2000,” said Tau.
He added that once the land board has done that, the BHC can then be awarded land elsewhere.
Tau said that as residents, they will do everything in their power to ensure that BHC does not develop the said land.
He stated that he suspects that corrupt elements could have played a role.
The Village Councilor, Boyce Tladi, who is also the Kgatleng Deputy Council Chairperson, said “it is heartbreaking to see the BHC being awarded land when locals have hopefully and patiently waited for more than ten years”.
He said recently Morwa residents had a special meeting where they brainstormed on how the two villages could handle the matter.
He revealed that a delegation, which was tasked to see the paramount chief of the tribe on how they can best handle the issue, was formed.
“It came as a shock to us when we heard that the BHC had been allocated a large piece of land in place of locals,” said Gerald Bodika, a Bokaa councilor.
He said there are many residents of Bokaa who have applied for land since 1992 and to date they have not even been allocated land.
“It is heartbreaking if the land board can awarded BHC land before those who have applied,” he said.
Bodika suggested that the only thing that can be done to try and solve the issue is to come to a compromise whereby those who have applied first are allocated land and BHC remains with at least about 200 plots.