This past Wednesday, a former junior minister at Finance Moyo Guma in his response to the 2018/19 budget made a commentary regarding land management in our country.
At face value, Hon Moyo’s comment was sweet music to the ears of a lot of people in our country. He suggested that the government speed up land allocation, precisely in the north east district by repossessing some of the land from a certain private company ÔÇô Tati.
Whilst we appreciate Hon Moyo’s comment, we are however not convinced that it is enough on its own to bring any changes to the problem of landlessness that Batswana are facing. We will later in this commentary make a suggestion on how his comment could end up being useful.
In the meantime, we seek to understand why it took Hon Moyo so many years for him to mention the need to repossess land from Tati Company. When exactly did he realise that only 5 percent of the land in north east district is owned by Batswana? Why has he been quiet all along and what makes him speak now on the eve of government transition and general elections?
In his comment, Moyo made reference to the effect that he does not see the need for people to sing the national anthem, more especially where it says “Fatshe leno la Rona” because they do not own any land. He is right but he should be reminded that the landlessness problem is a creation of his own political party led government.
Hon Moyo and his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) must be shameful that whilst more than 30 percent of the country’s employable population is on the streets looking for jobs, another 870 096 Batswana are waiting to be allocated a piece of residential land. This speaks volume of the current government’s priorities when it comes to the social contract they have with the citizens of this country.
Hon Moyo should not wait until the elections eve to tell us about the need to review the country’s land management policies and law. At this juncture Moyo, as back-bencher in Parliament he should have put up numerous motions that could have ensured that whatever he said on Wednesday was put into practice. Hon Moyo should by now have already convinced other Members of Parliament (MPs) across the aisle with to support him exception of Biggie Butale, Ignatius Moswaane and Wynter Mmolotsi because they need no introduction to the matter, they know what their constituents want ÔÇô which is land.
We need not to remind Hon Moyo or any MP, the fact that to date, Mogoditshane – a peri-urban village located on the western side of the capital Gaborone is reported to be having over 140, 000 applicants dating back to 1994. What sort of explanation does Moyo and his BDP government has for such delays?
What reasonable explanation does the government has regarding the rate of allocation at both tribal and state administration level which remains slower than the snail’s pace, with no minimal prospect for improvement?
We all are aware of the reason given previously by land minister ÔÇô Prince Maele. He said in March 2017 that his ministry needs extra funding to be able to service and allocate more land to the natives. This is a lame excuse. It is unbelievable that our government continues failing to accelerate land allocation in a vast country like Botswana, with a small population of a little just over 2 million. While we appreciate the financial constraints that Maele says cause delays in provision of serviced land, we feel that government is not doing enough. If really the government is committed to the social contract it has with the people of this country, it should explore other avenues such as the Private-Public-Partnerships (PPP) to speed up land servicing and allocation. The solution is as simple as that. PPP will not only speed up the process of land allocation but also jerk up the private sector which heavily relies on the government for business.
At the same time, Batswana should also be encouraged to play their part in ensuring that they do not sell the land they have been allocated. It is their national duty to ensure that their God given land does not land in wrong hands. From a legislative point of view, this could come into a form of new strict laws relating to the disposal of land by first time owners more especially to people who are not natives of this country.
On the other hand, our land board officials must as a matter of urgency pull up their socks. It is evident that all is not well at our land boards. The statistics of land allocation says it all. 4000 plots allocation in a year for the whole country is what we get from people who get paid every month whilst others receive sitting allowances. We urge government to investigate and deal with reports of laxity and corruption at our local land boards. Such investigation can only come if members of the society like Hon Moyo could stand up put up motions in Parliament that will make it mandatory for government to institute such. Until Hon Moyo and other legislatures continuously talk and act on their matter of landlessness amongst Batswana, then their comments are as good as populists stunts.
The #Bottomline is that Batswana needs “activists” MPs for them to win against any socio-economical challenge including landlessness and joblessness.