The Minister of Lands and Housing, Lebonaamang Mokalake has expressed concern over some Land Board officers who have the habit of providing him with false information leading to his embarrassment at the Office of the President and even in parliament.
Speaking during the Ministry of Lands and Housing Leadership Forum in Francistown on Monday, Mokalake said that on numerous occasions he has observed that when he requests information from the Land Board officers, it often changes from time to time.
“Let me caution you that the information requested ends up in high offices such as the Office the President or parliament; sometimes for publication. Henceforth I instruct you that all information requested must bear your signature. It is an embarrassment to provide false information that does not only threaten to tarnish our image but also serves to create mistrust from our clientele,” he said.
He said that sometimes the information collected from the officers is either lacking or manipulated. He further said that he always receives calls from members of the public concerning various issues surrounding the conduct of the Land Board officers. He said that members of the public complain that the officers do not give them a platform to air their grievances on services offered by the Land Boards. Instead, he said the senior officers would refer the complainants to their subordinates even on matters of dire importance.
“Once referred you also do not make follow ups for redress. This you need to improve and make our offices widely open for the public to consult you,” he added.
He suggested that a complainant management strategy be put in place in order to assist in reducing the mounting complaints.
The minister also raised concern over squatters. He revealed that there is a growing trend by some Batswana who charade themselves as authentic land authorities who have powers to allocate plots to members of the public while they are not. “The Kweneng Land Board invited me to address these purported land authorities alongside those who purport to have been allocated. The Land Board acted promptly to deal with these people and I have to congratulate it on that regard,” Mokalake said.
The minister also expressed worry over some Land Boards which are refusing to allocate plots to members of the public on the basis that they are awaiting demarcation. He explained that demarcation can only be an exception in planning areas or big villages. He said that government does not have enough manpower and funds to demarcate all land in Botswana as yet.
“Let me advise you to continue allocating land to people. Demarcation is only done in planning areas or big villages where we have always been doing so,” he said.
In conclusion, Mokalake said that the result of his ministry’s performance coupled with that of other ministries continues to contribute to the development of the country. He said such development creates an enabling environment for investors, who subsequently participate in wealth creation, thereby transforming virgin land into world class production centres.
The objective of the forum was to discuss a variety of issues on how to improve land allocation in the country.