Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando has called for a comprehensive land audit to address what he termed the artificial demand for land in Botswana.
“Land is a limited resource that requires to be managed in a sensitive manner,” he told parliament on Friday. The BCP leader said that there is need for the political leadership to address the issue of land management.
The Gaborone Central legislator has tabled a parliamentary motion calling on government to conduct a land audit to ascertain, among others issue, ownership, value, tenure and synergy between the planned use of such land and actual use.
Tabling his motion on Friday, Saleshando argued that while many Batswana were stuck in the waiting list after applying for plots, there is a black market for land. He stated that a perusal of the weekly advertiser confirms that trade of undeveloped and developed plots occurs daily in Botswana.
According to Saleshando some business people were deliberately buying large pieces of land in peri-urban areas and hanging on to it without developing it, only to sell it later at an inflated price.
“What drives this market, who are the sellers pushing up this demand…its important to know who owns what land,” he said, adding that it is important for government to probe who owns what piece of land and how they got the land.
“If it emerges that foreigners own large chunks of land….it is important to find out how they got it,” he added.
Comparing Botswana to France, Saleshando said that although Botswana is the size of France, there is a dearth for land. He argued that despite its close to 16 million population, France does not have a crisis of land management.
He said that if not seriously addressed Botswana could in future be distabilised by calls for land redistribution and land reform policies.
Saleshando cited the numerous instances where those who had applied for land were granted plots after staying on the waiting list for over a decade, the longest being an applicant for customary piece of land whom he said was given a SHHA plot after 30 years of waiting.
He said the trend is that many Batswana only get land after retiring.
“This leads to desperation among the populace hence the many cases of squatting and demolitions,” said Saleshando.
He added that a land audit could expose the false demand for land that is being created by those hanging on to land for speculative purposes.
The debate on the motion is scheduled for next week.