1 November 2017

Botswana: Govt Finalises Pandamatenga Land Issue

Pandamatenga — Government finds it difficult to allocate the whole of 2.5 hectares of land to Pandamatenga community only as promised back then.

The Minister of Lands, Water Management and Sanitation Services, Mr Prince Maele apologised to residents during a joint kgotla meeting with the Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Kgotla Autlwetse, saying the promise was a mistake.

It was reported that around 2007, some officer promised the community that the said land had been earmarked for small scale farmers.

Since then, residents had often felt that government took long to make the necessary processes so that they could utilise the land.

The promise was made following a report produced by a technical team, which undertook an assessment at Pandamatenga after the area experienced flooding, thereby constraining productivity.

However, Minister Maele explained that allocating that land to the community would be against an agreement with the African Development Bank, which loaned government to undertake servicing of that land.

"We find it difficult to allocate the land to you.

This is also against the tribal Act as it states that every Motswana can be allocated land where ever he/she is," he added.

He said the officers who promised the community that land made a big mistake as they did not understand the interpretation of the report, pleading with residents to forgive government.

He took the blame as the issue has been an eye sore and caused confusion among residents.

Minister Maele said the village leaders invited him together with the assistant minister, to address the issue, hence the joint meeting.

He appreciated that there was a high demand of land because of different uses and yet land was not growing, but stated that the only answer to land issues were policies in place.

The minister explained that the allocation of land issue in Pandamatenga dated back to 1984 while in 1986, the area experienced some floods, which forced government to send a technical team in 1988 to do an assessment and map the way forward.

"In 2003 the team submitted a report with recommendations on how to improve the floods situation in the area and in 2006, government requested a loan from African Development Bank to implement the recommendations.

The loan was approved in 2007," he said.

Mr Maele said after approval, they looked for the 2.5 hectares leading to demarcation of 61 plots, but it was realised that 14 people were already at the area while only five agreed to be relocated and nine requested for alignment.

The area, he said, has roads and drainage, but revealed that since four plots had been set aside for the community, the remaining plots would be advertised so that citizens could apply for it.

Mr Maele said it was unfortunate as their agreement with the bank did not single out small scale farmers in Pandamatenga and informed residents that to address and finalise the issue, government made a decision to reserve 458 hectares of land from the area which equate to four farms for community.

Initially, he said they had allocated the largest farm under special dispensation and economic empowerment scheme to make peace with the community and they expanded it with three more plots.

In addition, he said through his powers he advised that the nine people who were already in the area should be left behind and their plots be aligned to the land board map.

Earlier on, Kgosi Rebecca Banika told the two ministers that the community pinned their hopes in the 2.5 hectares as they wanted to invest on it.

She explained that when they learnt about the said land in 2007 and by then there were over 1 000 people who were in need of plots with hope that they would have a share from the 2.5 hectares.

However, she appealed to residents to treat the issue of land with care and respect as it was a sensitive issue, which could cause conflicts.

Kgosi Rebecca Banika noted that they should appreciate that the population was growing, but land was stagnant. BOPA

Source : BOPA


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