While a majority of Botswana citizens will remember the year 2020 as the “Covid-19 year”, atleast five of them will also a recall the year as the “good luck year”.
The five – Tiroyaone E. Mmereki, Motswaki Molefhi, Vivian Mogorosi, Masego P. Morekisi and Motshedisi Mongake were this week asked through a public notice by department of Lands – Gaborone to contact the ministry officials in relation to their successful land application in the capital. The notice did not state the exact location of allocation and/or whether there will be further allocations in the near future.
The Public Notice comes at a time when the government is said to be in desperate need of over P155 billion to service land across the country.
The official data as shared by the Lands ministry in December 2019 pegged the number of land applications at 1.3million, across the 44 sub land boards. This is more than half of the population of Botswana.
However, in December 2019 Minister responsible for land, Kefentse Mzwinila told Parliament there is “no land crisis” because there are multiple land ownership tenures in the country.
“I do not think we have a crisis, because Batswana in general want multiple plot ownerships.”
Mzwinila, said at the time that the country cannot say it has crisis because out of the 1,294,362 pending applications, only 505,600 applicants do not have plots or have not applied in other sub land boards.
In other words, Mzwinila said, in the waiting list 60 percent of the people should not be there.
“Only 40 per cent should actually be on the waiting list and we are going to remove that 60 per cent because the Land Policy clearly states that they should not be in the application list.”
At the same time, Mzwinila acknowledged that, his ministry has challenges to meet the demand for land by Batswana even though the supply does not always meet the demand.
Despite the high demand and outcry by thounsnds Batswana across the country, land allocation seems to be slower than desired. For instance, during the financial year 2016/17, the government has been able to allocate only 344 residential plots in urban areas. This number includes 13 in Gaborone, 67 in Lobatse, 131 in Francistown, 31 in Selebi Phikwe, 2 in Kasane.
Up north, in Francistown, City Councillors there in 2019 called for the summoning of Mzwinila to explain Tati Company’s land rights. Tati Company – a controversial British company which is believed to own huge chunks of land particularly in Francistown and the North East District is currently at loggerheads with councillors as they believe that it simply stealing the land that belongs to the residents.
A number of authorities and residents believe the company acquired the land from the natives during the colonial era under duress and unscrupulous means. They also feel that the company is continuing to take land belonging to the residents and has failed to present any tangible evidence to prove ownership of such land.
In early July 2018, after a presentation by the Director of Lands, Segomotso Maroba on issues of land in Francistown, the councillors expressed their discontentment with Tati Company accusing the company of trampling on the land rights of the residents at free will.
The burning issue of land in Francistown includes among others, over 2 000 serviced commercial and residential plots in Gerald Estates which have not been allocated since 2012 by the ministry. The councillors are unhappy that the situation is retarding developments in the second city and impoverishing residents.