Residents of Morope Village have rejected a lay-out map designed by the Kweneng District Council for the development of their village. The small traditional village is less than ten kilometres North-West of Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) along the Gaborone/Molepolole high way.
The map, indicating 3000 residential, 80 industrial, 40 civic community plots as well as five schools, was displayed before a well attended kgotla meeting on Tuesday.
The Principal Planning Officer in the Mogoditshane/Thamaga Sub-District, Justice Gabanamotse, took time to explain what the different colours in the map indicated, and informed the residents that some of the plots that were not fully developed at the time when the first draft (base map) was drawn might not be clear in the map. That as long as the occupants of such plots were legally allocated they should not expect abject negative out-comes once the map is used. And that the map was still part of the consultation process.
Residents on the other hand reasoned that they were not thoroughly consulted in the lay-out process. They wanted to know what would be done to those who were allocated plots by the traditional leaders, the chiefs – as the village, despite its underdevelopment, existed long before the land boards were formed. There also was the issue of allocating residents’ children, especially in the open spaces (in-fillings).
For a long time, they reasoned, the land authorities deprived them that right, under the pretext that there was need for lay-out map in order that such allocations would not temper with planned developments. So the residents had to wait for such map. To their amazement, they said, the same land board allocated the same plots to unknown none residents.
The land issue has reached an emotion-filled stage as expressions during the meeting denoted. The villagers took a step further and formed a non- political body- a ten-member committee known as the Task Force to deal, specifically with such burning issues.
Its Chairperson, Edward Kwape, spoke last during the meeting. His first comment was to show that he did not wish to speak as the Task Force Chairperson, but as a resident and wondered why if he was pointed to speak as the Chairperson the head table did not mention the road the Task Force has taken; going from office to office until that day. The Deputy Commissioner interjected to explain that his comment would spark off long debates. The meeting had taken too long already.
Kwape then expressed his disappointment over the limitation he had just received before asking whether the head table would consider all their queries and reverse some contents of the map.
“I can see that there are people’s names indicated there in the map. Why our plots are not labelled that way as well?” he asked.
Responding to the residents’ comments, the Board Secretary for Mogoditshane Sub-Land Board, Antony Bashingi, said that residents should be aware of the fact that the issues of land allocation there were not the same. Those residents whose plots have certificates are obviously legal occupants. Those who are without certificates were illegal occupants. The use of the lay-out map was vital if pardoning illegal occupants was to be considered.
“Pardoning of illegal occupants would come about after the lay-out map has been approved ÔÇôindicating that their plots would not temper with planned developments,” explained Bashingi.
On allocation of children, Bashingi said, “There is nowhere the Tribal Land Act stipulates that children of an area are prioritized in plots allocation. Such are special arrangements done according to Directives of leaders who have the powers to issue such. An example is the case of Mokolodi where the chief negotiated with the nation’s leadership to have Mokolodi children prioritised in land allocation.”
For his part, Gabanamotse said he wondered why residents said they were not thoroughly consulted while Village Development Plan was proof that there was thorough consultation.
“The Government Gazette published this so that anyone who wished to object could do so. Some comments reached the Lands and Housing ministry on the issue. What we are doing now is implementation of the government plan. We have been in need of developments that have been delayed by this lay-out map. It is here now, ready! We have heard and noted your concerns,” said Gabanamotse.
Mothibi Monyakeng Deputy District Commissioner commented to the effect that the villagers should advise their youth not to be emotional when raising issues of concern. That the villagers’ concern that they felt deprived rights as they had to wait for lay out map while others were allocated were valued. He explained that there was nothing the land authorities could do if those denied allocation went to court, and the court order ordered the land board to allocate them. He commended the Task Force as cooperative, disciplined organ.
Mogoditshane/Thamaga Sub Council Chairperson, Driver Motlokwa, said it was unfortunate that the residents did not embrace the lay-out map. Advising them to reconsider their position as developments are important, he said they come with both positive and negative consequences.