18 October 2017

Botswana: Ministry Tackles Land Woes

Francistown — Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Mr Prince Maele has said due to the competing needs for land, the ministry has a lot of pressure to manage it better.

Speaking at the ministry's 13th leadership forum in Francistown on Tuesday, Mr Maele said due to population growth, there is increase in demand for land utilisation as well as water resources.

He said challenges such as climate change and pollution made it even harder for the ministry to deliver on its mandate, therefore there is need for the management to work as a team.

Mr Maele called on all managers in his ministry to align their planning in such a way that they would complement one another and better serve Batswana.

He appreciated that the 2017 Tribal Land Bill and the Deeds Registry Amendment Bill would improve how the ministry service Batswana.

One of the key issues on the Tribal Land Bill, he said would be to protect and promote the interest of land boards by making it difficult for locals to sell plots to foreign nationals.

He said the Bill also aimed at empowering Batswana by ensuring that once their land is acquired from them for other uses they are paid the market value instead of compensation.

On the Deeds Registry Amendment Bill, he said the Act had been amended to provide for the registration of tribal land and as such Batswana can use their certificates as security for loans.

He called on the managers to inform Batswana on the changes and how they would impact on their lives. Mr Maele said also to better serve Batswana, his ministry through the amendment of the Deeds Registry Act has made it difficult for one of the spouses to sell plot without the consent of the other and each of the spouses is allowed to have a plot.

On the leadership forum, the minister noted that some achievements that were made through it were the standardisation of land boards processes, the introduction of plot application list as a way of restoring trust in Batswana and the sitting of land boards on a monthly basis in order to improve on turnaround time.

He applauded the management for the manner in which the Economic Stimulus Programme was delivered.

Mr Maele, however, raised a concern about poor record-keeping by departments in his ministry.

He said another challenge faced by the ministry was the allocation of serviced land and shortage of water in some villages that was worsened by climate change, which causes the drying up of some water sources and pollution that leads to some sources being abandoned.

The Minister decried that obsolete infrastructure contributed to between 30 and 40 per cent of water being wasted.

He was however optimistic that with the close to P15 billion World Bank loan the water challenges in the country will be addressed.

Permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Thato Raphaka reiterated water and land as pinnacles for the socio-economic development of the country.

He said as the population and socio-economic activities increase there is need to ensure issues of safe and secure land and sanitation are prioritised.

Mr Raphaka said there was need for proper planning to ensure semi recycled water from treatment plants were safely disposed to avoid instances of polluting the sources of water, citing the Artesia-Masama case.

He noted that there was need for proper plans and suitable infrastructure for all settlements bordering water aquifers.

Earlier, Francistown mayor, Ms Sylvia Muzila called for enough staffing at the lands regional offices in order for the office to adequately service Francistown, Selibe Phikwe and Sowa.

The theme of the forum was Securing Land and Water for Socio-Economic Development."

Source : BOPA

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