By Portia Nkani
Last week Members of Parliament, journalists in the press gallery and some members of the public who were in attendance in Parliament were left in shock and dismay following sentiments by the Minister responsible for land – Kefentse Mzwinila who refuted that there is land crisis in Botswana.
While thousands of Batswana have been “wait-listed” by various land authorities across the country for over three decades now, Mzwinila sees this continuous unavailability of both residential and business plots as just a “small matter” not a crisis.
The number of applications at the previous count was pegged at 1.3million, across the 44 sub land boards, which is more than half of the population of Botswana and requires over P155 billion for land servicing according to the land ministry officials.
Last week, Mzwinila ÔÇô who became popular after giving former President Ian Khama a gift of a gun at Mmadinare Kgotla during his farewell, told Parliament there is “no crisis” because there are multiple land ownership tenures in the country.
“I do not think we have a crisis, because Batswana in general want multiple plot ownerships.”
Mzwinila, a man believed to believed to have atleast three academic Degrees says the country cannot say it has crisis because out of the 1,294,362 pending applications, only 505,600 applicants do not have plots or have not applied in other sub land boards.
In other words, Mzwinila said, in the waiting list 60 percent of the people should not be there.
“Only 40 per cent should actually be on the waiting list and we are going to remove that 60 per cent because the Land Policy clearly states that they should not be in the application list.”
At the same time, Mzwinila acknowledged that, his ministry has challenges to meet the demand for land by Batswana even though the supply does not always meet the demand.
The Telegraph has learnt that, to develop an average plot, to provide access road, water and sewage, the average cost is P120, 000 for a single plot. Where the land servicing is inclusive of supplying electricity, the average cost per plot is P140, 000.
“Thus, the amount we have calculated in order to provide serviced plots to the “un-cleaned” waiting list is P155.3billion (P155, 323,440,000) which is unattainable, given the financial situation of this country and the Government.”
The government through this Ministry in recent years acted on Palapye project for plots servicing and has cost about P330 million. The Ministry had another project which unfortunately then got delayed by litigation. The project was to service the Metsimotlhabe area and its total estimated cost is around 480 million pula.