The question therefore is how long can this tranquillity, this stability be sustained? One may think the question is ridiculous but Botswana has so many injustices that we cannot possibly think they will not erupt one day. The issue of land remains largely unattended to in Botswana. All the relevant stakeholders are silent on this. Yes political parties have paid lip service to the issue but it has never been driven as an agenda. Young professional Batswana cannot afford their own property because land is said to be “scarce”. This has resulted in high rent prices that have made life horribly expensive for them. The set up in Botswana is such that young Batswana are incapable of creating their own wealth through the ownership of property and the leadership is ignoring this problem.
The last time someone talked about availing land to Batswana, it was Molefhabangwe who even stated defiantly that he was willing to lead interested Batswana into repossesing land in areas like Tati and Tuli block. The BCP has called for a land audit almost as an afterthought and one or two other political parties have mumbled something about it. All in all nothing is being done about the land problem in Botswana. There is not even robust debate on the issue. We have legislators who are either ignorant on the problem as they are not experiencing it or they simply won’t do anything about it because they are benefitting. This is precisely why I wish to warn the powers that be of land shortage as an issue of national security. The much vaunted democracy will not last long if the bulk of the people responsible for creating the wealth of the country are side-lined by the system from owning property. Democracy is not just about voting, it is about a just distribution of the nation’s resources. In the absence of such, democracy is a farce. The law means nothing if people are discriminated in their own land and indeed they have no reason to obey the laws of the land that does nothing for them (pun very much intended). This is the basis that must be appreciated as a potential hotspot for Botswana.
What reason does a young Motswana who went to school, has a good salary and is looking to invest but can’t find land or an affordable house has to be loyal to the country. In a country where foreigners outbid Batswana for plots and own the bulk of prime property, why should young Batswana see the country as theirs. There is awareness that certain people are getting land because of their connections to the political establishment, why then should Batswana be looking to the same people to help them? Everything has a boiling point and the land issue will eventually reach its boiling point. The situation then will no longer be political, it will be personal, the country then will have to deal with disgruntled family men and women who want better lives for their children. They will not be dealing with a bunch of comedians building castles in the sky on how they are going to run the country better. They will be dealing with the primary source of wealth creation in the country who at the time will demand answers as to where they were supposed to set their roots.
One does not know how this revolution, for there will be a revolution, will come through will it be the power of the ballot or bullet? Will it require so drastic conditions that there will be no constitutional process? In the absence of a voice, the malcontents will disregard due process. Botswana’s political leadership must deal with the issue of land availability for Batswana, especially young Batswana as soon as possible. The failure to avail land could be the issue that leads the country into turmoil if the political leadership does not act immediately. The failure of opposition parties to call for immediate change means there is no clear advocate for the tens of thousands of young Batswana who are getting increasingly desperate for a land of their own and it is not unthinkable that as the pressure builds something is going to have to give…it will be the privileged who pay for their inactivity it could be political or worse but the good boy veneer of this country will be lost forever.