BY VICTOR BAATWENG
This past Thursday we could not help but admire and applaud the leadership of the traditional leader of the Balete tribe ÔÇô Kgosi Mosadi Seboko. Kgosi Seboko appeared briefly before the courts of law in Gaborone together with her tribesmen and their attorney ÔÇô Oteng Motlhala.
Their contention and stand: We will not give room to injustice to happen by letting the government withdraw a Title Deed for a piece of land belonging to the Balete tribesmen.
By leading her tribesmen in court to fight for what is theirs, Kgosi Seboko is in a way reminding the powers that be that we cannot speak about empowering the natives economically when they do not have rights to a primary factor of production ÔÇô Land.
This case is also a sweet-bitter reminder to all of us of how the government of Botswana have over the years failed to treat land like the commodity it is.
It is hard to tell whether it’s by mistake or design that the government of Botswana seems to fail to realise that apart from labour and capital, land is another most important factor in production and creation of wealth ÔÇô for the citizens.
We however take it upon ourselves to remind the government of the urgent need to treat land as a commodity. This commodity can be beneficiated for wealth creation, sustainable economic growth and economic empowerment of the citizenry in general.
As we have seen in many other developed countries, land is an enabler of orderly development, citizen empowerment and investment.
We take this opportunity to also call on the government ÔÇô once again, to consider our previous plea that the country adopts new approaches to land acquisition, dispensations in terms of land rights, tenure and access as well as delivery processes by government and tribal authorities.
We say this repeatedly because of the observation we have made over the past decades: As a country, when it comes to the issue relating to land allocation or redistribution, we have been very successful to talk about it, but acting has been nothing but disappointment to the natives of this county. We have been talking way too long about the need to avail land to the owners but little has been done to ensure that such happen. This perhaps explains why the Balete were smart enough to acquire the Kgale Farms for their future generations. It is unfortunate that the state now want to reverse this noble gesture by some of our people to also have a small piece of land that they can call theirs. It is our plea to the business community, non-governmental organisations and Batswana in general to help the Gamalete Trust retain the ownership rights of the Kgale Farms. The Trust as led by Kgosi Seboko will need any sort of help especially funding and advocacy in the fight to hold onto the Kgale Farms title deed.
While at that, this case ÔÇô just like that of the Batawana vs. Tawana land board relating to Moremi Game Reserve and Maun Educational Park are a clear caution that at some point, the land crisis will become a security threat to this country. The truth that some might not want to hear is that the Botswana government could be sitting on a ticking time bomb which may see land issue becoming a security threat. This warning, just like the ones done about joblessness should not be taken lightly.
It is a well known FACT that the people of this country have been patient for too long to be given land. At the same time, despite this desperate outcry land allocation seems to be slower than desired. For instance, during the financial year 2016/17, the government has been able to allocate only 344 residential plots in urban areas. This number includes 13 in Gaborone, 67 in Lobatse, 131 in Francistown, 31 in Selebi Phikwe, 2 in Kasane.
To date, the rate of allocation at both tribal and state administration level remains slower than the snail pace, with no minimal prospect for improvement. Some several months ago, (August 2018) Mochudi Sub Land Board published names of applicants going as far as 1986. This point to long waiting lists across land boards which unfortunately are not getting any shorter.
We hope that the judgement of the Gamalete Trust vs. State case ÔÇô when finally delivered will be a timely reminder to us as a nation that there is really no way out ÔÇô For Botswana and Batswana to be internationally competitive there is need for them to be wealthy. One way of going about it is the sufficient use of this commodity called land. At the end of the day, the #Bottomline remains thousands Batswana are moneyless, jobless and landless. There is need to change tactics if these three headaches – moneyless, jobless and landless are to heal.