Botswana: Batlokwa Rope in Boko

A fresh showdown is on the cards between Batlokwa and Tlokweng Land Board owing to a decision to go ahead with allocation of commercial plots, despite objection from the community.

Members of the community led by an Alliance for Progressives (AP) 2019 parliamentary candidate for Tlokweng Chris Bogatsu, who last year petitioned the land board in an attempt to block the allocations are planning to engage Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President, Advocate Duma Boko to sue Tlokweng landboard.

According to Bogatsu, their intention is to seek legal assistance from the lawyers related to the opposition parties preferably president of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko. Petition Representative, Bogatsu, said as the concerned Batlokwa they will seek legal advice on the issue proposing that priority should be given to residential plots for Batlokwa. He said Batlokwa, who decry acute shortage of land for residential plots, have long formed a task force team to negotiate with government over the possible appropriation of land by the state from neighbouring farms such Ruretse, which belongs to the Khama family.

The petition

At the time of issuing the petition, the worried group of Batlokwa pleaded for the suspension of the award of the tender arguing that the 60%/ 40% quota was breached in each category. "The tender foresaid here (TLB/ 02/2016/2017) was based on merits of business proposal plans ignoring the facts that there are businesses operating without the licenses in Tlokweng which could have been given the waivers," reads part of the petition by the concerned group.

Responding to the petition, a few days before the October 2019 general elections, Tlokweng LandBoard Secretary, Fawcus Mmolawa, said due to official activities, they are unable to receive the petition. This week Mmolawa told this publication that they have started allocating land for business plots under the disputed tender adding that some are still pending. "We are aware of the petition raised by some of Batlokwa and they could have submitted the petition not to the Land Board but to District Commissioner maybe. The Land Board so far has awarded the tenders and anticipation is that we will finish on those left behind," he highlighted.

Asked why the Land Board could not wait for a consultation for resolution of the conflict that emanated from the tender, he said the tender could not be halted but instead those agrrieved are free to appeal the decision.

Tribe unhappy

Batlokwa and government have been at loggerheads for many years with the tribe unhappy over landownership across the village, accusing the Land Board of elitist aproach to allocations. Land allocation in Tlokweng is marred by controversy as Batlokwa have bitterly complained that they are made to compete for land with other people who are considered potential investors.

Consequently, Government came up with the quota system after Tlokweng Land Board battled with some Batlokwa in numerous occasions in a 2012 controversial case over plots allocation.

In the looming tussle for land, Land Board has moved swiftly to allocate Tender No. TLB| 02\02\2016\2017 for business plots thus moving against the wishes of the concerned group of Batlokwa named Re Bana le Basireletsi Ba Motse wa Tlokweng that petitioned the Land Board. Allocation of plots by the Land Board is earmarked for multifamily residence, Churches, Day Care Center, Civic and Community hall, guest house, cultural village, hotels to mention a few.

This publication has learnt that before, the Land Board bowed to pressure not allocate the plots in the first place as Batlokwa threatened to punish the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at the polls should tender be awarded. Recently, there has been suspicions from some members of the public that Tlokweng Land Board is allocating the plots whilst the concerned group are still hoping to be engaged further on the matter for an amicable resolution.

Dikgosi anxious

Sources close to the developments revealed that the allocation of the tender did not sit well with some Batlokwa Dikgosi who are also not happy with process of land division in Tlokweng. Batlokwa tribal leaders are said to be at odds over the tender as some believe that some of the leaders are conniving with the Land Board about selective plans for the land grabbing presently.

Some of Dikgosi are not happy with the process noting that their counterparts were tricked by the Land Board and cajoled with inclusion of a cultural village project in current land allocation. "The Land Board and some of our colleagues in the bogosi mainly those seating in Batlokwa Development Trust have not been truthful in their dealings over issues of land in Tlokweng. Every time when land authorities want to grab the land we are told about potential investors to invest in the village but the community never gets to benefit," said one senior Kgosi who preferred anonymity.

Efforts to reach Batlokwa Paramount Chief Kgosi Gaborone were futile as his phone was off.

In 2018, Batlokwa tribal leaders and Morafhe were bitterly divided regarding the controversial land seeking revised Tlokweng Development Plan which was presented by the Land Board and Batlokwa Paramount Chief Kgosi Puso Gaborone seeking land division for major developments.

Following two consultative Kgotla meetings, Batlokwa firmly rejected the plan their contention being that there should be no land grab for investors whilst Batlokwa still remain with no land. Kgosi Gaborone was left disappointed but Batlokwa later on okayed adoption of the plan after the initial plan that included annexation of agricultural land was revised as farmers were angry.

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