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New Land Policy to allow married couples 4 plots

Publishing Date : 21 February, 2018


Government will in the near future allow married couples four plots, unlike currently where they entitled to only two. Essentially, this means spouses can individually apply for two plots each-one being state and the other tribal.

Initially, the Land Policy was viewed as discriminatory as spouses were only entitled to one plot. This was said to have played a hand in high divorce rates as couples who could not individually or collectively own more than one plot, whether married in community of property or not and felt hard done by the policy across Land boards resorted to divorce to gain land entitlement. However in July 2015 government reviewed that policy, which culminated in the current land policy, which entitles married couples to two plots.  

In the policy, there is a guiding principle of one person per plot irrespective of marriage status to avoid discriminatory tendencies. Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele confirmed to WeekendPost that cabinet found the policy prior to 2015 as inequitable and having contributed significantly to divorce cases in Botswana hence the need to rectify it. “Of course it is true, that policy led to divorces in some instances. And when couples divorced they sell their plot and divide the proceeds amongst them. Then they end with nothing,” Maele highlighted.

According to Maele, Batswana pointed out these matters to government at kgotla meetings throughout the country and they heeded their call to review the policy. Following the kgotla meetings, the minister said cabinet then resolved to amend the policy to specify that every Motswana should be entitled to 2 plots per person-that is one state land and one tribal land – whether married or not. This, the Minister emphasized would then not discriminate married people. “In fact what this means is that the married will also be entitled to 2 plots each, which can amount to 4 plots. Cabinet has agreed on this. We only need to go back to parliament for approval,” Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services stressed to this publication.

But he said, as it stands now, every citizen including the married can have only 2 plots (1 state 1 tribal). “If it is written under a husband’s name, then wife cannot have another and vice versa.” It is expected that following cabinet’s approval, the minister will take the policy to parliament for endorsement, eventually making every citizen entitled to a residential plot regardless of marriage status. According to the Land Policy (2015), which this publication is in possession of, every Motswana will be eligible for allocation for residential plot at an area of their choice within the country. It states that “one is deemed to be allocated a plot if they have a lawfully acquired a plot registered in their names.”    

Currently the Minister said the couples whom individually apply for residential land cases are being deferred across the Land boards to allow for the policy to be amended accommodating every citizen with 2 plots even the married (individually). According to an independent Gaborone based attorney it is possible that some divorces may be as a result of failure to allocate one party in a marriage with a residential plot as every citizen feel entitled to. “It’s possible it can be so. But the same land policy will also still be discriminatory even if the married couple is in or out of community of property. One land allocation to one couple is wrong,” he told this publication.

The esteemed attorney continued to point out that: “it is just improper and it can easily be a ground in law.” The spouse may opt to divorce because they are prejudiced by the law particularly whereby you find someone you marry having acquired a plot which means in essence you could then not. The attorney however said a policy is just a guideline but not binding.



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