Repossession disempowers the poor

One of the greatest distresses for the poor Batswana is the limited timeframe Land Boards give for the development of residential plots. Currently, people are given five years to develop the plots, failing which the Land Board is empowered to repossess.

This policy implementation has always been questionable, with observers arguing it disadvantages the poor majority, disempower and subjects them to a circle of poverty.   While the policy stipulates that commercial plots have to be developed within three years of allocation, repossession, if it happens, is limited. There are commercial plots, mainly granted to the rich business people, allocated back in 2003 but remain undeveloped and still in the owners’ books.

Plots for Gaborone’s blossoming Central Business District (CBD) were allocated between 2003, 2006 and 2007. CBD had allocated 44 plots and some of them are not developed. Usually government repossesses plots not developed within a stipulated time. The plot owner would be required to explain to the Land Board why the plot cannot be repossessed. Most residential plot owners argue that even if one would want to, there are many instances when land granted is not serviced, forcing residents to

fork out heavily for Water Utilities Corporation and Botswana Power Corporation services. 

This week, MP for Tlokweng, Same Bathobakae, in debating the new land policy, called for increased timeframe for residential plot developments. 

“Land boards should not  be in a hurry to repossess land,” she said.  Bathobakae noted that while individuals had to reason with these authorities and seek exemption when issues beyond them such as services had hindered them from developing land, usually Land Board officials turn a deaf ear to their pleas.

The assistant minister of Local Government and MP for Mahalapye West, Botlogile Tshireletso concurred. She called for an enabling collaboration between government agencies in order to promote timely land development. A review of the Accelerated Land Servicing Programme (MLH 2001) found that, of the middle and upper income plots in Gaborone, 13 percent  had to be repossessed as compared with 55 percent  of the SHHA plots.




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