The war between Tati Company Limited and Francistown City Council is raging on as the councillors are demanding that the Botswana government should buy the land from the company as one of the available options.
The controversial British Company, Tati which owns huge chunks of land in Francistown city and the North East District is registered as a real estate entity.
Recently the Francistown City Council was also at loggerheads with the Company over a farm it acquired from the company named NQ91 in the vicinity of the city which measures 139 hectares. The city authorities claim that the company denies them access or at times gives them controlled access to the farm. They have threatened to take legal action against the company.
Apart from NQ91, Francistown city councillors from across political divide believe Tati acquired the land from the natives during the colonial era through unscrupulous means. Most of the residents of Francistown and the North East District do not have land for residential, businesses and agricultural purposes. One of the problems that plague Francistown is the backlog of plot allocations which dates back to the late eighties. Some of the politicians have since called for land expropriation from Tati Company as they believe it has stolen and continues to steal land that belongs to Batswana.
During a meeting with the Minister of Land, Water and Sanitation Services Kefentse Mzwinila during a special full council meeting last week, the councillors made a resolution that government should buy the land as Francistown as the last option as people do not have land. Mzwinila had been summoned to Francistown City Council to explain on problems of land allocation in Francistown.
“Our resolution as councillors is that the government should buy land from Tati Company which owns almost all the land in the city,” said Councillor James Kgalajwe who is also the former mayor of the second city.
In response Mzwinila said that government cannot force Tati Company to sell its land as Botswana is a democratic country which also abides by the law.
“We are a democratic country which abides by the law. Government cannot force the company to sell its land to us. It is a matter of willing seller and willing buyer,” he said.
Presenting on other issues concerning land allocation in Francistown the minister said the Ministry is currently speeding up plot allocations in the second city. One of the burning issue in Francistown is that there are plots in Gerald which were serviced since 2012 and were never allocated.
“I know there are problems with regard to land allocation in the city. We have a solution to some of the problems and we do not have solutions for some at the moment. To our knowledge there is currently 1 988 residential plots which were not allocated but serviced in Gerald Estates,” he said.
“Our mission is to look at the deferred applications first. There are currently 1 235 applicants in that regard. We went back to them to see if they still want plots. We realized 367 could be given plots according to our assessment. We are about to complete the assessment to see if they really qualify. From the 367 applicants, 55 will soon be allocated,” he said.
As per media reports Tati Company is registered in the United Kingdom (UK) and its holding company is a secretive vehicle registered in the tax haven of Panama, Amarena Holdings, which is ultimately controlled by the The Bernard Glazer Will Trust, incorporated in South Africa.
Tati Company Limited’s biggest client of land is believed to be Botswana government.