Francistown – In what is a sign of mounting desperation stemming from landlessness, false rumours of plot allocation led to the Self Help Housing Agency offices in Block 7 in Francistown being swarmed with thousands of people who were seeking to be allocated land.
Principal Housing Officer in Francistown City Council, Kamogelo Chakaloba, said this past week her offices were besieged by plot seekers who wanted to be allocated plots immediately.
She said that she was forced to instruct her juniors at the SHHA offices in Block 7 to divert the applicants to the SHHA offices in Selepa so that they can have a breather and also have a chance to register the insurmountable pile of applications.
Asked what could have caused the surge in the number of applications, Chakaloba said that it must have been a false rumour circulating around town. She dismissed allegations that the City Council was secretly allocating plots at an area near the airport, saying that they were merely going about their usual business of receiving applications.
Chakaloba also refuted allegations that they had abandoned the old application list that goes as far back as 1986 saying that the old first come first served system of allocation still stands.
The complainants have also accused the city council of colluding with the rich at the expense of the poor and unemployed.
This is because it is a requirement that plot applications be accompanied by a pay slip or proof of employment.
Those without such proof are automatically disqualified.
Tshepo James, an unemployed University graduate, said it is unfair for the unemployed to be denied the right to own land because they are the ones who need plots the most.
Chakaloba defended the requirement for pay slips or proof of employment saying it was meant to establish proof of income and ascertain if the applicant qualified for the SHHA program as it was meant for low income people.
She revealed that SHHA is meant for people who are within the P4440-P36400 annual income bracket.
Chakaloba said that though they have decided to stick it out with the old list, they are expecting some problems as the land allocation policy has not been computerised. She said that they are therefore forced to manually check through the list thousands of applicants to ascertain if an applicant who is due for land allocation has not been allocated a plot previously.
She revealed that the city council is presently allocating people who applied in 1986.
There are over 18000 of them.
”The Department of lands is the one responsible for servicing land,” said Chakaloba. She also added that even the un-serviced land that is available is not for the sole use of the city council as other stake holders, like Botswana Housing Corporation, are also awaiting allocation.