A new group of farmers are questioning the allocation of ranches to two Members of Parliament to the detriment of full time farmers with a farming record.
Farmers claim the Ngwato Land Board was not transparent in its allocation of 27 ranches at Kaka which were advertised in July last year but were only allocated a year later.
They claim that a board member from the royal family did not recuse himself when one of the bidders with royal ties was interviewed.
The farmers’ bone of contention is that it took a year for the Ngwato Land Board to allocate the ranches.
Added to this, the farmers claim that the land board has failed to play by the rules of good corporate governance by failing to disclose successful bidders in the media ÔÇô a mode of communication the land board has been employing.
Farmers wonder what criteria was used to shortlist and eventually allocate ranches when shortlisted candidates were asked basic questions such as what is needed to develop a ranch and how many cattle can one put in a 6 km by 6km ranch.
“There was a team of professionals who shortlisted 63 applicants from a total of 1388 to the Board by way of meeting tender requirements and scoring on the basis of management plans submitted. The 63 applicants were then called for oral interview with the Ngwato Land Board which is made up of eight board members. The eight scored individual applicants to determine the successful 30 applicants,” says the Land Board.
The Land Board refused to disclose to the Sunday Standard the identities of successful bidders.
“We do not find it proper to publicise people’s names without their consent,” said the Ngwato Land Board spokesperson, Chandapiwa Baputaki.
Despite this refusal by the land board, legislators Prince Maele of Tswapong North and Ndelu Seretse of Serowe North-East confirmed they have been allocated ranches.
Asked why the process of allocating the ranches took so long, Baputaki said the process of assessment and adjudication was long and tedious.
“It was not something that could have been done over a short period. The delay was caused by discussions between the Ministry of Lands and Housing and Ministry of Agriculture in coming up with appropriate adjudication process, which was finally released by May 2011,” according to the spokesperson.
The allocation of the ranches has not been without controversy. Last year MP for Boteti North, Slumber Tsogwane, convinced parliament to halt the allocation of ranches, citing displacement of Basarwa farmers. It, however, turned out that the MP had expressed interest in being allocated a ranch.
Farmers further allege that one ranch was allocated to a 26-year-old who is close to one of the MPs who has no experience in farming. Farmers are particularly peeved that they put a lot of financial and human resource in preparation for the tender while some people have been handpicked because they have close ties with prominent and influential people.