The Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM), early this week lamented that the government of Botswana does not treat land like the commodity it is.
BOCCIM representative, Lekwalo Mosienyane, said that apart from labour and capital, land is another most important factor in production and creation of wealth.
“On this basis, land should be treated as a commodity, which can be beneficiated for wealth creation, sustainable economic growth and economic empowerment of the citizenry,” Mosienyane said. “For Botswana this aspect is yet to be capitalized on fully towards greater economic development of the country.”
He said that for land to be an enabler of orderly development, citizen empowerment and investment, new approaches to land acquisition dispensations in terms of land rights, tenure and access and delivery processes by government and tribal authorities have to be adopted.
“It is worthwhile to examine the current dispensation with regard to land tenure, land rights and access to land and even their historical antecedents and how all these have shaped our understanding and utilization of land as a commodity for wealth creation,” he said, adding that the existing legislations regulating access to land and developments to land should be assessed.
“All these will be with a view to ascertaining pertinent issues and constraints which hinder attraction of foreign investors, citizen economic empowerment and economic growth generally in the country,” he said.
He argued that the current and tenure systems were imposed on Botswana by the British colonizers with intent to hinder usage of land for wealth creation, recommending that for Botswana to be internationally competitive, it would have to shed “some of the vestiges of the colonial land management systems”.
Mosienyane said that the land tenure systems should be changed such that all land tenure systems are ‘collaterable and ├ºommoditised’ to enable easier access to capital.
Mosienyane also said that land delivery in Botswana is slow and this impedes on economic growth, frustrating both local and foreign investors. This, he said, is due to the government retaining the responsibility of land delivery.
On issues concerning land legislation and regulations, he said that there are currently too many laws that deal with land but they are mostly conflicting with each other; he said that the Ministry of Lands and Housing should consider harmonizing the regulations.
From the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations, Keneilwe Moseki expressed disappointment over the compensation rates the government offers people after their land has been reposed for other developments.
“We keep talking about citizen empowerment, but our worry is the compensation people get after land is taken away from them; it is not empowering at all but rather belittles people,” she said.
The Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) is currently conducting workshops on the national land draft policy.
The Minister of Lands and Housing, Nonofo Molefhi, said that the land policy should advice on issues of access to land and by every citizen, as well as citizen rights.
The MLH was, however, also accused of being stingy where openness is concerned.
Other stakeholders said the MLH should consider finding convergence with all stakeholders and should work with them through the national strategies where land usage is concerned.