A new pressure group, which was recently formed via Facebook, is in the process of prompting youth and the entire nation to unite and push government to improve access to residential land and housing to Batswana.
The group members, who are mostly youth and have been communicating via Facebook, had their first meeting this week and elected a committee, which has started registering new members and collecting signatures for individuals with concerns related to difficult access to land and housing in the country.
The founder of the group, Motlhaleemang Moalosi, indicated that the group’s committee is expected to have completed drafting the petition, which will consolidate concerns and frustrations related to access to land and housing in the country.
He indicated that the group, dubbed ‘petition to Minister of Lands and Housing’, is targeting both the Ministry and its departments.
Moalosi said they are planning to conduct kgotla meetings to mobilise more people to join the group and later conduct peaceful campaigns before sending the petition to the Minister.
He expressed concern that while there is plenty of free land owned by the elites, a majority of ordinary Batswana find it difficult to access land and build themselves residential places.
“Zimbabwe reformed it’s constitution to repossess land from the foreigners. Botswana should also do the same in order to avoid the backlog of land applicants in land boards,” he suggested.
He said they want government to allocate the free land to applicants who are in the waiting lists and added that, as part of their petition, they will also request land boards to commit themselves that by 2015 they would have allocated 1 000 plots to Batswana.
When expressing his concern during the meeting, another group member, Oagalebe Tefelo, said the situation is turning into a crisis as the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is also overprizing houses and residential plots are also not affordable to a majority of Batswana.
He gave the example that the average price of an undeveloped plot in Gaborone and the surrounding areas is more 400 thousand and a majority of people in the government payroll cannot afford a mortgage to buy the plots. Moalosi said due to high prices, it’s only the elite who keep on accumulating more land and BHC houses, a situation which encourages imbalances and renders the market not controllable.
Tefelo said government should intervene to control the market as the private sector is also hiking selling and renting prices to match BHC prices.
“How do we expect the private sector to lease houses at an affordable price while BHC is overprizing,” he said, adding that it was initially said the market would control itself but it’s failing.
Tefelo added that they have a long term mission of transforming into a permanent pressure group that intends to advance the interests of Batswana and other issues of concern.