Recent comments by Trade and Industry Minister Vincent Seretse on the land question are, for lack of a better word, disappointing.
Seretse is the least expected to disregard the plight of the landless. This is a man who for many years ran an estate company that helped sell land to people, among them foreigners. In the process, his company helped inflate land prices. As an estate agent and businessman, Seretse is better placed to know the desperation of the landless. He would know the frustration of the poor citizen who cannot get the smallest piece of land to build a house. Seretse’s inconsiderate attitude towards the landless cannot go unchallenged. What does minister Seretse mean when he says it is not possible for everyone to get land and that some people will always have to rent? Is he implying those who need land should resign themselves to the possibility they will never get land? And who really should have land?
Minister Seretse’s comments border on elitism and appear to encourage a class system where the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than it is now. The minister must appreciate that the majority of people who flock to Land Boards looking for land are largely young people. Many of them are unemployed and do not have the means of buying the kind of plot that the minister’s former company would advertise. Simply put, they are poor people.
The minister conveniently forgets the value of land to any individual. Land is the main asset from which the poor are able to derive a livelihood. Anywhere in Africa, land is a major determinant of individual, household and community poverty. It is security against poverty. For when you have land you can build yourself a house and not rent; for rental can only drive you further into poverty. You can use the land as collateral to access credit from banks. Without land, poor people are doomed to a life of perpetual
“Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for it’s the only thing in this world that lasts. It’s the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for...”
- Margaret Mitchell, Author,
Gone With The Wind