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Masisi given ultimatum on explosive land issues

Publishing Date : 06 August, 2018


President Mokgweetsi Masisi is facing an ultimatum with regard to controversial land disputes in the country especially in Gaborone peripherals.

Masisi, who has been in the highest office in the land for just over three months has been warned that he will lose in the next crucial 2019 General Elections should he not resolve the explosive land issues. “We appeal to the President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the last resort and the only option left now, to settle down these disputes before the next elections,” Gabane/Mmankgodi residents together with their area legislator Pius Mokgware said this week in a politically charged constituency press briefing.

He continued to point out that “it is in his (Masisi) interest or else he will lose the next elections as a leader of the ruling party and may lose state presidency,” Mokgware pointed out. Mokgware and residents said this after approaching the then Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele to establish a land committee to address the issue.

At the centre of disputes is the “ridiculously low compensation” for those whom their land has been possessed by land boards which continues to give them money around “P35 000 while they demand another allocation instead.” The residents asserted therefore that they demand a fair compensation or else Masisi will see dust in the impending Elections.

“If you are given that P35 000 as compensation in accordance with the current Land Policy then what are going to do with it? Masisi’s government needs to change or review this Land policy as this compensation is ridiculously low. Every Motswana should be compensated accordingly,” Mokgware pointed out. The lawmaker continued to highlight that “they should look at the existing Land policy to see to it that people are allocated accordingly.”  

“In addition there are more than 150 complaints at Kweneng Land board which has exposed the land board’s record system and its undesirable state.” Furthermore the land board has failed to properly demarcate the land as “there are no commercial, industrial, residential designated portions in our constituency,” fumed Mokgware who was interchangeably backed by residents. The land issue has become a hot potato issue in the country for years now especially during the 1994 era of the controversial Kgabo Commission report.

The report implicated the then Vice President Peter Mmusi and cabinet Minister Daniel Kwelagobe for their part in unconventional dealings in the land problems in Mogoditshane, Tsolamosese and other areas. Since some of the issues still remain unresolved to date, in 2016, a taskforce team was established between residents in Gabane/Mmankgodi constituency and officials from Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services especially Kweneng Land board and Mogoditshane sub land board.

The taskforce was set up to investigate further the land matters in the area and recommend appropriate remedial measures between government and residents. However the area Member of Parliament (MP) Pius Mokgware revealed that the committee has not achieved its mandate because the government (land boards) is not forthcoming to resolve the stranded residents land disputes. “We have yet not received a favourable response from government.”

The residents of the disputed areas, especially Tsolamosese and Mogoditshane, were requested to pay the Land boards not more than P10 000 and undertake substantive ownership of the land equipped with land title certificates and this, to many, did not effect as promised. In addition Kgabo commission report liberated many of the residents, for any misdemeanor but the land boards set aside the recommendations and demolished their homesteads.

Therefore the failed taskforce was to look into, among others, the Kgabo Commission and the Presidential Pardon as declared on illegal squatters. According to the confidential terms of reference, the taskforce was also to investigate all plots allocated by Bogosi and establish if all such plot owners have been issued with certificates.
 “If findings indicate that some of those allocations are still without certificates, the committee shall identify why the land board is delaying such allocations.”

In addition, the taskforce was to establish how many people have long applied to regularize their plots and land they obtained through inheritance, and why the landboard is delaying action on their application. Furthermore, the probe team was also to establish why the land board acquired land without consulting and compensating farmers in some cases, for example, in Nkoyaphiri Industrial and Ledumadumane. The new-fangled commission was also to find out the number of people who had made agreements with the landboard to allocate their children plots when their ploughing fields were acquired.

Investigators specifically wanted to know as “to why in some cases the landboard failed to honour the agreement of allocating such children or some of them, and also, and why some children were denied allocation of plots on their obtained parents fields only because they got married or were married to land right holders”. Moreover, the taskforce was also to determine why the landboard is inconsistent in its land compensation as some farmers are compensated with plots why others the land board insists on monetary compensation.

“We were also to establish why in some cases the land board refused to regularize mekgoro (homesteads) of those whose farms were acquired; establish what the land board intends to do with cases where a farmer was compensated and refused to regularize homestead for the acquired ploughing field,” they assert in the official document. All in all it is anticipated that the taskforce will help bring the contentious land issue, which has been raging for over a long period of time, to a mutually acceptable conclusion.

On Opposition unity

Meanwhile, apart from the controversial land issues, when asked a question by this reporter on how the Gabane/Mmankgodi lawmaker will contest in the next elections following his defection from Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to Alliance for progressives (AP) he said they will work together. “I believe in opposition unity, and AP also believes that, I can assure you that we will be together going into the next elections on whatever form or arrangement,” Mokgware stated.

He asserted that they currently have a good working relationship with the sitting councilors and believes they can still defeat the BDP together at the next polls. “I have a very good working relationship with councilors in my area and we believe we can triumph together if we continue to work together. My biggest objective is to see that the BDP doesn’t win the constituency,” he insisted.



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