Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi have pleaded with the government to release its grip on institutions such as the Land Tribunal in order to make them more independent.
Tribal leaders made their plea when debating the Land Tribunal Bill which was presented before Ntlo ya Dikgosi by the Minister of Transport and Communications Nonofo Molefhi on behalf of the Minister of Lands and Housing Lebonaamang Mokalake on Monday.
Kgosi Maruje Masunga of North East region expressed concern that the Chief Land Tribunal President shall be appointed by the Minister.
“We seem to have too much control on institutions. There is need to reduce too much control on institutions so that they become independent. What exactly are we saying about the independence of our institutions,” he wondered.
Masunga questioned the wisdom of ‘deferring’ a process whereby Presidents of the Land Tribunal will in the future be recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as suggested by Molefhi earlier on saying “we should not say we will fix things in the future because land as a commodity is becoming something else. The demand for land must be in line with service provision.”
Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe of Serowe region also expressed concern at the requirements that a candidate must meet in order to be appointed a member of the Tribunal. Boiditswe took issue with the ‘the 10 years experience’ requirement.
“According to one of the sections in the Act, a candidate must be qualified for not less than 10years. My bone of contention is that some senior civil servants have deliberately set those years at the disadvantage of fresh university graduates. They will be the ones only suitable to meet the requirements. Those years should be cut down to five years so that graduates can also meet those requirements,” he said.
Boiditswe also did not have kind words for government institutions wondering where the graduates get experience if the same government institutions only require people who are highly experienced.
“We seem to take lightly the widely held opinion by the youth that for a long time senior civil servants have reserved some plump posts for themselves and don’t have plans to rope in the youth; it’s a concern shared by the majority of our youth,” he said.
He also questioned the wisdom of seeking highly experienced candidates reasoning that if the government institutions themselves cannot offer graduates an opportunity to gain experience “where will they gain it.”
Boiditswe was also to take on the Minister later when he said the Land Tribunal was likely to be a toothless dog.
“We have to be assured that the decisions of this Land Tribunal will not be different from those of the Land Boards across the country because if that’s the case then there is no need to have such an institution.”
Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of Barolong sought clarity as to why the Chief Land Tribunal President and Land Tribunal Presidents were appointed in accordance with the Public Service Act if the same Chief Land Tribunal Act was also appointed by the Minister.
“Why is the Chief Land Tribunal President appointed in such a way?”
His sentiments were shared by Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete. Kgosi Kgari III of Bakwena asked if the Chief Land Tribunal President and Land Tribunal Presidents were to be hired on contractual basis and not like other employees of the Land Tribunal.
Replying, Molefhi said plans were underway to have Presidents of the Land Tribunal and Industrial Court judges recommended by the Judicial Service Commission. “We intend to do that in the future but it’s going to be a process that will be implemented in the future. In the mean time let’s not deny Batswana services and make use of what is at our disposal. The intention to have the Land Tribunal Presidents recommended by the JSC is there,” he said.
On Presidents of Land Tribunal being appointed on contractual basis, Molefhi reminded the tribal leaders that government has decided to hire those on E-scale on contractual basis which he said could be renewed depending on a number of issues.
On government seeking highly experienced individuals at the disadvantage of graduates, Molefhi cited international best practices, saying the more a judge is experienced the more the law is at the tip of his hands. “That is why judges retire at 70 while other civil servants retire in their 60s.