Addressing a kgotla meeting in Paje on Thursday, Minister of Lands and Housing, Lebonaamang Mokalake, said land rights holders of spaces between the homesteads should be traced and called for audience by the Paje Sub Land Board. He noted that, because of these spaces that have been there in the village, residents now mislead the Land Board, claiming that there is no one allocated that piece of land which results in double allocations.
The Minister challenged the Land Board to consult its records before allocating land to avoid these double allocations and urged the Land Board not to be biased when repossessing the plots. He added that the names should be publicized in both broadcast and print media to reach all their targeted audience.
Those who fail to turn up for audience would mean the land has no owner, and then it can be allocated to someone else, he said.
Mokalake encouraged Paje residents to build huts on their plots while waiting for bigger houses. De-bushing and building a toilet on a plot is not considered as development, he added.
He, however, voiced concern that people sell land to foreigners. He said he doesn’t remember the Land Board allocating foreigners land, but they own land in Botswana because Batswana sell land to them.
“We don’t have problem with you when you sell the developments on your plot, but please know that our population grows but land doesn’t and you will need that land in the future,” said the Minister.
He encouraged the residents to rent their land if they can’t develop so that they (residents) can’t lose their land by selling it to foreigners.
“Lefatshe ke boswa,” he said.
Mokalake revealed that Botswana is experiencing a serious shortage of land, so the Land Board should change the way they manage/allocate land. He gave the example that nowadays 40mX40m allocated before is no longer in practice because of this factor. He said that some land allocation policies should be amended. He gave the example of the 500m distances between churches, bars and schools and said for small villages like Paje, there would be no churches and or bars if the school is allocated first in the village.
He also expressed a concern on the way Land Boards administer land stating that they (Land Boards) are slow.
However, he noted that systems are being re-engineered to speed up allocation/administration processes.
Mokalake gave the example of the on-going Systematic Land Registration project, which will help the Land Boards know who owns what and where. He noted that, the country is competing for investors with the neighbouring countries so the Land Board must improve the way they allocate land to retain investors they wish to start businesses in the country.
“We would like to have a one-stop-shop in future where you will be able to sign certificates, lease and title deed without traveling long distances,” he revealed.
During the questions and comments session, residents complained of the distances between boreholes, stating that they should be reduced to 4km and the ranch sizes should also be reduced to 4kmX4km so that at least more people can acquire ranches.
Mokalake responded that even if ranch sizes are reduced, if you are the allotee is not productive they won’t be able to manage that land and instead end up selling it. Another resident advised that the applicants should indicate ID numbers on the forms, to certify that they indeed consulted neighbours to curb the situation whereby people mislead the Land Board, indicating that they consulted people which results in double allocations. He also said Dikgosi should be given allocation lists because they can assist in identifying those with plots.
The minister answered him by saying the Systematic Land Registration project is the one that would help the Land Boards to know who owns what and where in the country.
However, the Minister demonstrated that he is happy with the way residents of Paje work with the Land Board. He stated that it’s the second village to hear appreciating the efforts made by the Land Board in land administration.
The Minister is expected address a Kgotla meeting at Khwee and Letlhakane on June 4, 2012 at 0900 and 1430 hours, respectively, while on 5th June 2012 he will be at Xere and Mmadikola from 0900 and 1430hours. The Minister will then proceed to Kedia and Xumo villages on 6th June 2012 from 0900 and 1430, respectively, and Mokoboxane on June 7, 2012 at 0900hours.
The Minister will pay a courtesy call at Debswana ÔÇô Orapa on June 8, 2012 at 0900 hours. He is further expected to hand over a house to an underprivileged resident at Letlhakane.