Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Ongoing land ‘expropriation’ must stop!

It is common knowledge that inequitable land relations has contributed to race based conflicts in countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya and South Africa.

By far land politics remains the central issue in most of these countries.

Of late, there has been disturbing reports relating to acquisition of land in Botswana. Besides the court cases of allegations of dubious land transactions, it has also emerged that foreign syndicates are busy buying up land around Botswana.

The syndicates in question, it is reported, are buying land ranging from commercial to residential plots in areas like Gaborone and the nearby villages as well as in Francistown, Maun, Selebi-Phikwe and Kasane.

It is reported that Batswana are enticed with large sums of money by Chinese, Indians and Nigerian syndicates not even domiciled to sell off their pieces of land.

At some point, a certain Gaborone businessman was said to own over 500 plots in Gaborone alone. There has emerged a culture among Batswana of selling off their land. This is a worrisome trend, not because of who is buying but it demonstrates that most Batswana do not attach some degree importance to land ownership.

We acknowledge that this is free market economy and as long as it’s private property the owners have every right to decide what they want to do with their piece of land, including who they want to sell their piece of land to. However desperate, locals should not be hustled to sell their property.

Our view is not intended to pit our society into clusters of buyers. Neither are we interested in raising a xenophobic rage against the purchaser simple because we do not have the purchasing power.

Land issues normally strike at the root of any community. The ongoing land deals have the potential to place the country’s land in the hands of a few individuals.

In our view, our government and the citizenry should wake up to tackle the problem. As a clarion, we believe that when it comes to land then government should draw a lesson from history. By far, land is the most valuable assert which, under normal circumstances, should remain priceless because it belongs to future generations.

It would be a sad day for Botswana if future generations complain that their country’s land distribution is shaped along patterns and, as a consequence, breed conflict.

Its time for government to come to the party, we are not saying a directive should be issued halting the sale of land, rather it is the responsibility of government to teach its people about the value of land.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing has to search for a solution for this social problem before it’s too. The ministry should not only be active when it comes to evicting squatters.

Government has to take charge and educate the citizens about the value of land. Our government has to take the lead and demonstrate to our people that our land is so valuable and thus has no price because it belongs to future generations. It is partly a government programme that some with land have not been able to get the requisite empowerment schemes from government.

The ministry should take a lead in igniting confidence within the general population that there is some non-tangible value in not selling their plots.

The ministry seems only interested in grabbing the undeveloped land.

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