The Tawana Land Board is expected to start evicting people at Maun’s Shashe ward who were left out after a court order ruled in their favor that they be given extended time to vacate the land that they had illegally occupied. The extended time, which was only a twelve month period, has since elapsed and the yellow monster is expected back at the area in due time. The ward sits in a flood plain, which is also said to be a preservation zone in a planning area. Nevertheless, it is believed that the land board might have blundered as they had in the first evictions, and without much consideration, booted out people who had stayed in the area even before the establishment of the land boards.
In his address of the sub council meeting, Sub land Board Chairperson Kgato Motai blamed the self allocation of plots on the political leadership as they had been at the forefront in misleading people into occupying land illegally.
He said while the Land Board is free and always willing to sit for talks to discuss the issue of continued squatting with both the tribal and the political leadership by virtue of them being major stakeholders, councilors should bear in mind that they cannot by any means stop them from exercising their mandate of evicting people because the Tribal Land Act allows them to do so. He said it is not true that the squatters were not alerted beforehand, as they were served with notices of eviction even though some preferred to overlook the notice. Furthermore, he said the squatters were also summoned over, so as to show cause why they cannot be evicted.
Motai stated also that during inspections carried out by the land-board in Maun alone, it was realized that there are over 186 open spaces, some for civic and community while some are for residential use, all of which haven’t been allocated and therefore undeveloped. He said they awarded close to a hundred of these to the North West District Council (NWDC), to use on their projects. “With assistance from the council’s physical planning unit, we will in no distant future do a base map and assess all these spaces to see if communities may benefit from them.
Nevertheless the land board is greatly concerned by some people in Maun who deliberately occupy land unlawfully because of their failure to settle domestic conflicts with their families, thus opting to move out to stay on their own. I mean, these are just some of the lame excuses we always hear during our inspections. Some even sell their plots and decide on joining the growing number of squatters” said Motai.
On the issue of people who might have been mistakenly evicted, Motai said they will after all assessments have been carried out, compensate deserving people. He however differed with councilors who demanded that they be issued with a list bearing names of all people believed to be squatters. He said, “That will be very unfair because we need to be really certain that indeed those people are squatters. We don’t want incidents whereby we publish false lists, only for people to come back and sue us for defaming them. After all consultations have been made, the sub land board will then make recommendations to the main land board to see how we go about the whole issue”. As the district leadership, the NWDC included, he said the onus in now on them to solicit funds and determine where the evicted people can be relocated.