Thursday, October 28, 2021

Cabinet moots compulsory acquisition of former Minister’s land

The planned Morupule B 5 & 6 power plant has run into another obstacle because former Minister and Morupule board member, Boyce Sebetela is demanding more than P26 million for a chunk of land he owns around the area.

Sebetela’s land together with that of 166 other farmers is eyed for a new open cast coal mine by the Morupule Coal Mine (MCM). The new open cast mine is supposed to supply coal to units 5 and 6 of the Morupule B whose construction has also been delayed due to a dispute between the government and the Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Although the government, through Ngwato Land Board is reported to have considered doubling the initial offer of P12 428 million to P26 230 million, Sebetela is said to have not entertained such. MCM on the other hand is said to have also objected the revision of the compensation sums on the grounds that the new amounts suggested will serve as a deterrent for any future project as the land acquisition would make it cost prohibitive.

As a result of the refusal of the proposed compensation by Sebetela and six other farmers, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang has since made a recommendation to President Ian Khama to issue a directive to the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation for a compulsory acquisition of “all land identified as necessary for the development of a new open cast mine in the Morupule area.” 

Sunday Standard can reveal that in July 2014, MCM commenced the process of surface rights acquisition from approximately 166 farmers in the Ngwato Land Board area in the vicinity of the mine within the existing mining license. The targeted land covers areas which straddle the three sub land boards of Serowe, Palapye and Paje.

This publication can further reveal that following the kick start of the land rights acquisition process by MCM in 2014, the following year, February 2015 consultations with the affected farmers began with vast majority of them accepting the compensation sums. However, atleast seven of those farmers, amongst them Sebetela who did not accept the compensation sums offered by the government.

This week Kebonang confirmed the standoff between the farmers and the Ngwato land Board on one hand and the MCM on the other.

“It is a fact that there is a disagreement relating to compensation of farmers in that area, we have since referred the matter to a third party to advice on it as there is a dispute on the rightful amount of compensation to be paid”, Kebonang said in the capital Gaborone on Tuesday.

At the same time, Kebonang is said to have told Khama that due to the urgency of the matter and the fact that consultations have been held on the matter with the government, the Ngwato Land Board and the concerned farmers, “any further consultations would be futile”.

To make his case strong, Kebonang is also reported to have told cabinet that MCM considers that the only viable solution which would enable it to meet the project commencement deadlines would be a compulsory acquisition under the Tribal Land Act.

See story on Page 13.

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