Monday, November 29, 2021

Khama defies parliament on land quotas

President Khama has announced that he will issue a Presidential directive nullifying a parliantary decision that rejected his proposed land quota system.

President Khama announced this week at a kgotla meeting in Bokaa that he will invoke his executive powers to override Parliament on the land quota system.

The clash between the legislature and the executive on the land issue first reared its head in 2013 when a few weeks after parliament rejected a motion proposing that land boards should reserve quotas for natives especially in villages surrounding urban areas, President Khama announced at Kgotla meetings in Bokaa and Tlokweng that government will introduce a land quota system.

Although Parliament had rejected the motion calling for land quotas, the former Minister of Lands and Housing, Lebonaamang Mokalake tabled an amended land act that included the quota system in line with what President Khama promised. The amendment to the land Act was shot down by Members of Parliament who were unhappy with the provision for a quota system.

A new proposed land policy was again tabled before the current sitting of parliament without the clause for a quota system and was passed by parliament. However, in the week that parliament debated the new land policy, President Khama told Bokaa residents last week that he will use his executive powers to direct land boards to reserve quotas for natives especially in villages surrounding urban areas.

By pushing through the land quota system, Khama is also breaking ranks with past Botswana Presidents who were opposed to the system. Before the Tribal Land Act was amended in 1993, only tribesmen (morafe members from a particular tribal territory) could be allocated land in their tribal territories. Former President Sir Ketumile Masire viewed this as ‘causing’ tribalism. It was also seen as against the spirit of nation building and resource sharing.’

Addressing the University of Botswana in 2007 on Natural resources in Botswana’s Socio Economic development, former President Festus Mogae stated that,

“The vesting of mineral rights in the state has allowed government to equitably spread services and development across the country, in fact, all natural resources are shared, that is why residents of districts with limited land can apply for land in any other part of the country with abundant land, similarly, water, electricity are drawn from one part of the country to service any part of the country.”

These sentiments were shared by the last and current parliaments which rejected the quota system. Former Member of Parliament for Gaborone West, Botsalo Ntuane told a local newspaper then that, when the land quota issue came up he looked at his maternal grandmother and asked her why she and her community were so poor and yet there are the original inhabitants of the very area where the BCL cooper/nickel mine is located.

“In other countries they would be very wealthy from royalties and shareholding in that mine. But the development path we chose was unique, although some communities had to sacrifice in the process. People in Jwaneng, Boteti, Matsiloje, Dukwi and other areas have sacrificed so much in the interests of resource sharing and national unity. ┬á “If we adopt a land quota some┬áwill rightfully demand that their water should cater for them first because they can’t go thirsty and yet see their water reticulated to the rest of the country where they are barred from owning land by the quota system. How about those who will say we can’t allow electricity to be distributed to other parts of Botswana whilst we are in darkness but the coal used to generate power is found in our community. Would that be the correct way to build this nation? It’s a question that should exercise the minds of all Batswana,’ he said.

Khama stated this week that the land quota system will apply in areas such as Bokaa,Oodi,Kopong, Ramotswa and other areas.

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