Saturday, July 2, 2022

Parliament rejects land audit proposal

By a majority of 29 votes to the opposition’s 13 votes parliament has outrightly rejected a motion by Gaborone Central MP Dumelang Saleshando calling for a comprehensive land audit.

According to the Minister of Lands and Housing, Lebonaamang Mokalake, government has already started a similar process of registering and capturing history on all awarded plots.

Mokalake has also acknowledged that the previous system had major flaws resulting in poor records keeping.

“Many files are missing and that is why it’s difficult to retrieve information on many plots,” he said.

“Good as it is, it does not differ with what we are doing now,” he added. “We have used over P30 million on this project and we are going to use 74 million to roll it countrywide….Are we going to have a parallel project?”

He continued: “The issue is not that there are no problems of land…but it will be wasteful to have a similar process like an audit,” argued the minister.

Mokalake said that with the rolled out programme, government would find out how some pieces of land were acquired.

“We have gone too far to turn back…we cannot have two similar systems running parallel to each other.”

Most MPs who supported the probe contended that only Botswana’s rich and powerful (have access to the land).

According to MP Wynter Mmolotsi most of the ruling BDP MPs had used their influence to acquire land.
Commenting on the motion right before it was thrown out, Gaborone West South MP, Botsalo Ntuane, contended that he supports the audit because there were so many foreign nationals who owned huge chunks of land in Botswana.

The MP said that he wants government to establish how such land was acquired, adding that only a comprehensive land audit could suffice.

Ntuane also said that it was time for government to enact a law prohiting ownership of land by foreigners.

“I know of no Motswana who owns land in China, India or Nigeria,” argued Ntuane.

Ntuane, who expressed support for a petition on land issues by a group of youths, said that there is also a need for government to promptly limit the number of plots awarded to foreigners for commercial purposes. He warned that if not handled well, issues of land ownership and distribution could shake Botswana and bring political instability. He said that a lot of indigenous Batswana do not have land.

Also sharing Ntuane’s view is Chobe MP, Gibson Nshimwe, who argued that most prime land in Botswana’s tourism centres belongs to naturalized Batswana.

“An audit will show whether such was legally acquired or not,” he stated.

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