The Ngwato Land Board is owed more than P122 million pula in lease arrears, Chairman of the Board David Modisagape has said.
The arrears, according to Modisagape are attributed to companies and individuals who have been allocated business plots or land for common law uses. The beneficiaries are expected to pay annual lease rentals.
“We are working on modalities of making people to pay”, said Modisagape at a recent press conference.
In order to deal with the lease arrears the NLB will ensure that all leases are signed and collected timely; they follow-up new debtors upon expiry of grace period and development covenant and make publications in print media to update records with Land Board to ensure easy follow-up.
He admitted that some of the challenges the NLB is facing include shortage of human resources, finance, equipment and transport which could also add to the failure to collect the lease fees on time.
He also highlighted that the new Tribal Land Act of 2018 which was enacted in April 2022, makes registration of tribal land grants by land boards (customary grants and Common Law Leases) at Deeds Registry compulsory. All grantees of land rights allocated by Dikgosi before establishment of land boards and those allocated by land boards in terms of the repealed Act are required to apply to land board for registration of their customary land grants or leases within six months of the commencement of the Act.
“Where transfer of land is proposed in favour of a non-citizen, the holder of such land is required to publish the proposed transaction in the Government Gazette and at least one newspaper circulating in Botswana. The land board will consent to the transaction where they are satisfied that the interest of citizens have been taken into account,” explained Modisagape. He expressed concern over the fact that important asset like land is transferred to non-citizens and wondered why leasing the land is not considered the best option.
He said that transactions such as mortgage lease capable of running for five years require consent of land board if such transactions are proposed in favour of non-citizens. The issue, sale, transfer and mortgage or any other disposal of shares in a private company owning tribal land also requires consent of land board. The Act, he said also introduces market value as one of the factors to be considered in determining adequate compensation and that it further empowers the Land Tribunal to hear appeals concerning repossession and compensation matters from land boards.
The land board, which has more multiple land uses than any other land board in the country, NLB has; with its 15 sub land boards recently been involved in land allocation in its area of jurisdiction. The Minister of lands directed the NLB to allocate 6461 plots in July 2022 and 87 percent- 5521 was allocated, which is 25 percent of annual target.
“The annual target of 22,091 is to be allocated by December 2022 and it is a contribution to the minister’s target of 100,000 plots. Regarding survey of new layouts, NLB has submitted 35,995 plots to ministry for outsourcing of survey works to private land surveyors. The land board has already surveyed 3,937 while 6461 were available for allocation in July 2022. Thus, the total number of plots received by NLB this year is 46, 392,” he said. Modisagape advised that land owners are expected to register their plots for Secure Land Title with their respective land boards without fail. He said it has been noted that some people are reluctant to register their plots due to suspicion that there are intentions to dispossess them of the plots. But, he hastened to add that there are a total of 1363 people who registered at Gaborone and 7539 in Francistown. A total of 38, 312 have registered up to the end of July.