Policy to Promote Land Rights

| April 9, 2015

The Minister of Lands and Housing, Mr Prince Maele, on Tuesday (April 7) asked Parliament to adopt the Land Policy that was first tabled on August 15, 2013 but was not concluded due to time constraints.

Following consultative meetings with relative stakeholders such as members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, Mr Maele presented the policy with amendments after his ministry decided to withdraw the affirmative land allocation requirement.

Under the affirmative land allocation, original inhabitants were to be given special preference but has since been removed and “it is being addressed through other channels for indeed it is fundamentally critical.”

Mr Maele said the primary goal of the policy is to protect and promote land rights of all landholders and promote sustainable human settlements. “The policy also aims at improving land allocation through establishing an up to date land information management system,” he said.

He said there were a lot of challenges facing land management such as shortage of land for settlement expansion, numerous transfers and ultimate sale of land and speculation, where people get allocated land but illegally transfer it to buyers before it is developed.

Another challenge the minister said, was illegal occupation of land commonly known as squatting and failure to comply with development covenants by those allotted, both in terms of paying for land and also developing within stipulated time.

Mr Maele said some plots are under developed which has resulted with only a fraction of allocated land being put to productive use and competition for land which has led to conflicts especially between wildlife and human activities.

He said previously, land management practices were fragmented due to many policies implemented by many agencies in an uncoordinated manner.

“Due to these uncoordinated initiatives, policy conflicts were realised as the various agencies acted independently of each other,” the minister said ,adding there was a need to have an overarching framework to coordinate all their efforts and thus give direction.

The Land Policy focuses on four key issues, land tenure, access to land and protection of land rights, land management and administration and institutional and legal framework. Minister Maele said the current land tenure system would be maintained, save for registration of customary land grants which he says would enhance the value of tribal land grants.

Access to land has been improved and the policy proposes that every Motswana would be eligible for one plot in the country.

“However, one would be deemed to be allocated a plot if they have a plot registered in their names regardless of the manner of acquisition, and they would not be eligible for allocation of another plot,” he said.

This does not mean additional plots cannot be acquired through other means such as through private markets or inheritance. “The policy also aocates that measures will be put in place to access housing without necessarily owning a plot,” he said.

Allocation of commercial, industrial and civic and community land would be based on investors’ financial and management capability and would be sold at market prices through public tender.

Land for tourism activities would also be allocated at market prices in a transparent manner, the minister said. Mr Maele said the policy proposed that grazing and arable land should continue to be separated to avoid land use conflicts.

The minister said lease rentals on all commercial agricultural activities would continue to be set at market rates. “The policy proposes that land should be repossessed where there is evidence of mismanagement,” he said.

Land would also be zoned for game farming. The Minister said special dispensation would be made to accommodate the needs of Remote Area communities and any other disaantaged groups that could be identified.

Amongst other areas addressed by the policy, transfer of undeveloped land remains forbidden to discourage acquisition of free or subsidised land for speculative purposes.

It is proposed that those who sell subsidised land within 15 years should pay the difference between subsidised prize and full market prize.

Under Land Management and Administration, it is proposed that all areas should be declared planning areas to deal with issues of land use conflict, inefficient utilization of land and settlement sprawl.

The policy further proposes the establishment of land authorities to transform and professionalise Land Boards and other land administration authorities.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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