Saturday, October 24, 2020

Developers inconvenienced as public officials read from the wrong book

Scores of local developers who wished to register sectional titles on tribal land and lease holdings have been inconvenienced because government officials applied the South African Act instead of the Botswana Act ? it emerged in Parliament this week.

Although the Registry of Deeds has been insisting that Section Titles do no apply on Tribal Land, as is the case in South Africa, and had to be dragged to court to force them to change their minds, the Minister of Lands and Housing, Ramadeluka Seretse, told Parliament on Tuesday that ?the legislature at the promulgation of the Act intended that the Act be applicable on all types of land tenures in Botswana. It is, therefore, correct that the Sectional Title Act in its present form permits registration of sectional schemes on tribal land.

Scores of developers who had invested a lot of money in creating sectional title schemes braced for financial ruin when government officials insisted that sectional titles do not apply on tribal land. The Registrar of Deeds was forced to climb down from their position and settle out of court after a local developer, Matshediso Investments, took them to court.

The Registrar of Deeds, Nchunga Nchunga, begrudgingly agreed to register the Sectional title, although he still maintains that sectional titles should not apply on tribal land. This position is buttressed by a Deeds Registry internal discussion paper that argues that the Botswana legislation is based on the South African law and does not take cognizance of the peculiarities of leasehold and tribal land.

Seretse explained to Parliament that ?as the legislation is new and also complex, there was a long learning curve for most stakeholders such as land surveyors and architects who prepared sectional plans, the Director of Surveys and Mapping who examines and approves the sectional plans as well as the Registrar of Deeds who registers such sectional plans.?

The Minister was answering a question from the Member of Parliament for Palapye, Boyce Sebetela, who had asked for an update on sectional titles and if it ?applies to tribal and leased land as reported in The Sunday Standard of 4th March 2007.?

Seretse, who is a lawyer by training, explained that, ?Whilst there is divergence of opinion whether or not the Sectional Titles Act is applicable on tribal land, the legislature at the promulgation of the Act intended that the Act be applicable on all types of land tenures in Botswana. It is, therefore, correct that the Sectional Titles Act in its present form permits registration of sectional title schemes on tribal land. This is derived through the interpretation of relevant provisions of the Act.?

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