Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Multi million land registration project up in smoke?

Fresh reports have surfaced suggesting that the Land Administration Procedures Capacity and Systems (LAPCAS) is likely to go up in smoke with allegations that Ministry of Lands and Housing has instructed land boards not to hire additional staff.

There are even claims that the Ministry may have misled President Ian Khama that it will still meet its December 2016 deadline.

In effort to expedite the land registration to meet the looming deadline, the Ministry recently convened a leadership forum to deliberate on the project and map the way forward.

Sources familiar with the project have however said it is in “a mess.”

“We don’t think the project will meet the December deadline as President Khama was promised,” said an insider.

According to insiders the project derailed after focus was shifted from the land registration to the establishment of the land information system.

They explained that the information system is one of the components of LAPCAS project but it is now being treated as a stand-alone project, with its own staff and offices housed at Debswana House.

“People were lured to the information system after they realized that they could make more money from per diem and overtime allowances,” one of the sources said.

He explained that land registration which is supposed to feed the information system “has collapsed.”

“They are just doing public relations. They must just admit that the project has failed. P1.2 million was used to produce a TV programmed that was not budgeted for,” he said.

It is understood that the ministry is struggling to get additional staff to help with records sorting of files, verification of plots at the land boards across the country.

“The situation is a mess at the land boards. There isn’t enough staff as we speak,” another source said.

“The most complex part of land registration exercise is drawing of maps, conducing general plans, inspections of development status of each plot, verifying information from the public against the one in the office files and taking that to the board for adjudication and wait for new certificates. It is very complex and taxing than the leadership make out,” said the source.

The Telegraph has learnt that at this stage at least 70 percent of land registration was supposed to have been conducted before migrating data to the information system.

“Now they will have the system ready while land boards are not ready to transfer information because what they have is not clean data. Most of the land boards’ land registration stands at between 20 and 30 percent. The Permanent Secretary is now shifting the blame to land boards for the slow process and delay,” the source said.

“Right now services at land boards are very low because files are still be held somewhere for the project. For instance transfer of land ownership which was processed since 2014 has not been completed.  Under normal circumstance it takes only a month. People positioned themselves for plum posts when it was announced that an information system would be established. That is what added to the backlog,” the source said.

He added that “Most of the time it was the Permanent Secretary who was doing the talking and there were a few exchange of ideas during the deliberations.”

He said a letter was recently addressed to land boards secretaries by a certain Joyce Wantlo informing them there is no funds to be disbursed to them for the project to hire more additional staff.

Replying, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Lands and Housing, Thato Raphaka denied that the project is in a mess. 
“We will meet the December deadline as planned. What people are failing to take into cognizance is that the LAPCAS project has different components; Land registration being one of them,” said Raphaka.

He added that “with respect to land registration, we would have surveyed and registered all the plots across the country by December this year.”

“We survey all the plots in the country after registration and you as the owner of the plot you have to come and confirm. One of the challenges that we encounter is a situation whereby more than two people are claimants to one plot as it happens in Mogoditshane and we had to check our records,” he said.

Raphaka added that “It is not true that we have stopped land allocation or that we delay transfer of land.  We have written to land boards that they should not halt those processes.”

He also denied reports that they don’t have enough funds to hire additional staff. 

“We have enough funds at the land boards; we have engaged people to clean our records. Wantlo is not aware of the letter that she is purported to have written. We have instructed land boards to hire temporary staff,” he said.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.