Wednesday, October 21, 2020

‘Land issues should be spoken with the sensitivity they deserve’ – Seretse

Minister Vincent Seretse told parliament recently that land issues should be spoken or debated with the sensitivity they deserve as they are some of the most sensitive issues in the world.

He said that they should not be debated or presented in a manner that would invoke emotions and flaring of tempers.

Contributing on the ongoing debates on the President’s State of the Nation address, saying that parliamentarians should all speak against squatting.

Seretse added that where people are legally found to be at fault squatting, the removal of culprits should be done humanely.

Asked what his interpretation of ‘humanely removing squatters’ was, Seretse said that he meant a situation where someone knowledgeable in counselling would be sent to counsel the victims of demolitions so that when the demolitions ultimately occur, they would be able to cope with the situation.

Seretse praised the government for its achievement of allocating 6 000 residential plots to the youth. This, he said, shows that the government is committed to empowering the youth.

Asked whether he was aware that the youth make up 60 percent of the country’s more than two million people and having allocated them only six thousand residential plots covered just a small fraction of their number, Seretse said he was aware of their percentage. But, he said, the percentage covers even those still at school and that most of those who qualify to own land are catered for in the six thousand.

He said there are signs that all Batswana who need land will end up having it.
“If there is a delay in servicing land for human use, it is because of financial constraints. If funds were sufficient to service land then that would be timely done,” he said.

For his part, the Member of Parliament for Nata/Gweta, Rainer Makosha, said the demolitions that frequent various parts of the country are indicative of some serious fault or failure on the side of the land authorities. He said that there should be thorough stock taking of the Lands and Housing Ministry’s responsibilities. “Something needs to be done,” Makosha said.

He criticised the situation where vast lands are reserved for wildlife. Comparing Botswana with France and England he wondered why there should be shortage of land for people when the population of Botswana is so small and the country is quite wide.

Makosha further bemoaned the conflict erupting between the wildlife and the farmers. He said compensations for livestock and crops that have been destroyed by wildlife are far too small to cover up for the damages caused by wildlife.

“It is like we are just ploughing our crops for the wildlife. We also keep livestock for the wildlife. This Department of Wildlife and Tourism is making a lot of money through tourism. So the government should consider raising compensations because the Tourism sector is reportedly bringing large amounts of money – second after the mining sector – especially diamonds, into the country,” complained Makosha.

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