Botswana: Mzwinila Calls for Land Use Optimisation

Gaborone — Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Mr Kefentse Mzwinila says it is important to diversify land use for optimal economic and financial benefit.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing inaugural land symposium organised by the Botswana Association of Tribal Land Authorities (BATLA) in Gaborone on Monday, he said the land administrators should empower Batswana on the needs of the market for them to effectively use land, especially in the agricultural sector.

Mr Mzwinila said his ministry was working on a new paradigm shift on land utilisation in the agricultural and tourism sectors, including commercial, civic and community areas.

With the new paradigm shift on land usage, he said the ministry was discussing with members of land boards on how to facilitate Batswana in terms of optimal utilisation of their land for economic benefits.

He said Parliament had approved the increase in the amount of land for either ancillary or complete change of land use from 15 per cent to 50 per cent.

Minister Mzwinila said mainstreaming of land management into national development and socio-economic development had become important in the facilitation of employment.

In this regard, he said the land ministry was changing the approach to be more user-friendly in terms of outcome and assisting Batswana to derive economic ideals.

"Land is the facilitator of job creation and economic growth as well as economic diversification," he said.

Mr Mzwinila said the ministry was working on processes aimed at assessing each sector to come up with approaches that could help maximise land usage.

In this regard, he said Cabinet had taken a deliberate decision that all land banks should be moved to land boards for single land authority to facilitate all land use resources because land was the main facilitator of job creation.

Thus, he said, it was important that certain areas be zoned for development activities, especially in the tourism sector to enable citizens to become active in the industry.

"We should be able to empower citizens, be it quotas or affirmative action to empower them because we want the citizens to be the main beneficiaries in tourism," he said.

He highlighted that there were challenges with regards to investment opportunities in land because government alone was unable to provide serviced land and he noted that Public Private Partnerships were important to optimise delivery of serviced land.

Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Mr Fidelis Molao, who was one of the panelists said land ministry was best placed to ensure that pieces of land allocated for agriculture were optimally used for economic benefits.

"Agriculture is at the centre of livelihoods of Batswana and we should make sure Batswana go into the space of industries that supply inputs into agriculture pursuits like seeds, fertilisers, machineries and vaccines," he said.

In this regard, he said the land ministry should facilitate land usage in order to get the best out of raw materials that come from agriculture pursuits.

He also said land was an important enabler for attainment of food security, diversification of the economy and creation of the much needed sustainable employment.

"We facilitate that our people stay in the fields and I implore this symposium to come up with solutions that can help our people to derive maximum value of land utilisation in the agriculture sector," he said.

The two-day inaugural land symposium, organised by the Botswana Association of Tribal Land Authorities, is held under the theme; Optimal Land Utilisation: Unlocking The Economic Value of Land.

It would, among other things, review existing land programmes and policies in an effort to facilitate maximum use of land resources for job creation; sustainable food production and security; care and protection of pristine flora and fauna.

The platform will also reflect on crafting new ideas that can help in optimising the value of land resources, as well as to come up with ideas needed to grow local economies and attract Foreign Direct Investment.

Source : BOPA

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