Individuals who were allocated ranches in the Sand Veld area by the Ngwato Land Board, to the detriment of farmers with expertise backed by sound financial standing, are now selling their undeveloped ranches for millions of pula.
To this end, anonymous individuals have advertised the sale of at least eight ranches measuring six kilometres by six kilometres in the Sand Veld area about 60 km from Serowe.
The sellers who advertised the sale in the property section of a popular knock ‘n drop puts the selling price of ranches between P5 million and P8 million for each 6 km by 6km ranch. The ranches are barren land without livestock and not all of them are fenced although some are said to be having boreholes.
This happens as some farmers who have been in the industry for decades are crying foul that the land board allocated ranches to individuals and companies whose business interests are not farming. Farmers also allege that hence some people have failed to develop ranches for more than 10 years.
Farmers argue that while the Ngwato Land Board is more than eager to repossess residential plots, the land authority has failed, dismally, to display the same kind of eagerness on undeveloped ranches. This has heightened suspicion over the manner with which some people may have been allocated ranches with some having strong suspicion that money may have exchanged hands.
The land board has confirmed that it has not repossessed any ranches in the Western Sandveld to date. According to Ngwato Land Board, allocated ranches are given three years development period.
“The defaulters were given extensions which elapsed in November 2011. The land board will check compliance in March 2012 for enforcement. The objective is not to repossess but to ensure that those allocated ranches develop their ranches in order to make meaningful contribution to the economic development of the country,” said Chandapiwa Baputaki, Ngwato land Board spokesperson.
Asked why companies which are not involved in farming have been allocated ranches, Baputaki says: “Where allocations were made, it was in the interest of the nation wherein such land could not be secured elsewhere in the country. Such land would include allocation for solar power generation and well fields.”
Curiously, at the time when the Land Board advertised the 30 six kilometre by six kilometre ranches in the Western Sandveld, they were for purposes of farming.
The land board, in its correspondence with some of the farmers whose applications were turned down, said it approved those who had readily available finance and assets in one. Assets included houses, cattle, goats, or any assets that cannot provide quick cash. The Sunday Standard can reveal that some farmers who matched the criteria were, nevertheless, turned down.
Some of the farmers are already seeking legal opinion over the seemingly dodgy manner of allocation of the ranches.