Parliament Adjourns With Land Policy Debate On

| April 13, 2015

The debate on the envisaged land policy is to be continued in the coming sessions of Parliament as it was not concluded during the just-ended session.

The policy presented by the Minister of Lands and Housing, Mr Prince Maele, was initially tabled before Parliament in 2013 and was deferred to another sitting as it was not conclusively debated due to time constraints.

At the close of parliamentary business on April 9, several MPs had shown interest to air their views on the policy. Gaborone South MP, Mr Kagiso Molatlhegi, said he would not allow the motion to pass as foreigners were still allowed to own land.

However, Minister Maele said the policy could not be contrary to the act that allowed foreign land ownership, to which the MP called for its amendment. He said foreigners should only be allowed to rent property rather than own it adding it was disheartening to find foreigners selling land to Batswana.

MP Molatlhegi welcomed VAT exemption and transfer duty for first time home buyers, but was worried that people in his constituency who developed their own properties rather than purchase houses stood to lose out.

He also said he was against the idea of having raffle for land saying the ‘first come first served’ principle must be maintained.

The Gaborone Bonnington North MP, Mr Duma Boko, issued a warning to the minister saying he should expect a lawsuit in future as the policy stated that every Motswana had a right to either be allocated a plot or a house.

He said the policy seemed obligatory to confer a right on every Motswana to one parcel of residential plot. MP Boko said the policy had, however, not specified the exact size of the plot which might be inconsistent around the country.

He said there must be a corresponding duty on the part of the government to provide that land and government must expect to be sued for failing to deliver on this obligation. MP Boko also said the government should commit itself to a time frame, meaning Batswana should be told when they would be allocated plots from the time they applied for land.

He further said the Botswana Housing Corporation should not be criticized but instead the government was to blame for exorbitant housing prices as it failed to provide serviced land.

Failure for government to provide services has meant the corporation undertakes the exercise itself and sometimes it has to purchase land which increases housing prices beyond the reach of many Batswana, he said.

MP Boko said tribal land should be converted to freehold land saying sometimes people face difficulties when they apply for mortgage when their lease has less than five years remaining.

Meanwhile the Gaborone Bonnington North legislator criticised government saying the land tenure system carried with it colonial concepts. The land tenure system, he said, was divided into three categories prime land now called state land, native land now tribal land and freehold which was reserved for white settlers.

He said the system has failed to add another category of aboriginal title. Before the establishment of land boards, traditional authorities allocated land which was never vested in the land boards and MP Boko said this category of land should be recognised.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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