Sunday, March 3, 2024

GCC will order rich squatter to demolish illegally built wall

It certainly wasn’t a good idea for a company called Zimmal Reliance to build a perimeter wall fence that encroached on plots owned by the Gaborone City Council. Sunday Standard learns from good GCC sources that the company will be ordered to demolish sections of the wall that were built on neighbouring Council land.

This is second time unlucky for Zimmal whose application to annex four plots owned by GCC was rejected by the Physical Planning Committee. The company had put the cart before the horse, building on land it didn’t own before applying for it. The land in question is in Ledumang, bordered by Motswedi Junior Secondary School on the northern end and a row of houses on the southern end. Both GCC and Zimmal own neighbouring parcels of land which have been lying fallow for years. Two months ago, the latter started building a wall fence that should have been confined to its own land but ended up enclosing Council-owned land that members of the public use as a thoroughfare.

Zimmal was allocated this land in 2000 with the understanding that it would construct only affordable housing. The plan has changed and when its representative recently appeared before the Physical Planning Committee, successfully requested permission for addition of a shopping complex. However, such development will be problematic in terms of conditions that the Ministry of Lands and Housing (as it then was) allocated the land. Gaborone has a shortage of houses and not shops and the planned shopping complex will obviously take up land that should have been used for houses. 

On any day, this issue would have been swept under the carpet but Ledumang was the wrong choice of venue. The land in question is in an electoral constituency (Gaborone North) whose MP (Haskins Nkaigwa) used to be Gaborone mayor and is thus familiar with most land issues from his days at town hall. On asking a parliamentary question about the land in question, Nkaigwa was given information that turned out to be false. The Assistant Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Itumeleng Moipisi, told the house that the land that Zimmal now claims as its own belongs to the government. In terms of parliamentary standing orders, that answer will have to be withdrawn and replaced with an accurate one. The accurate answer will itself open a can of worms because the land should long have been repossessed. Zimmal failed to develop the land within the statutorily determined period of two years. The land was to be developed by 2002 under a PPP but it is only 17 years later that developments are being made and illegally so.

Moipisi ÔÇô or his senior, Prince Maele – has yet to correct the record on the floor of parliament.


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