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It Canít Possibly Be True. But It Must Be!

The ways of the bureaucracy are invariably a cause of wonderment, the latest instance for me being a posted statement from the Kgatleng Land Board which stated that the amount due to it from me is precisely nothing!

It seems that this is how things are done nowadays. In the recent past, the government needed a slice of my tshimo in order that a road could be constructed to the new fuel reserve at Tshele. 

The process of acquiring and compensating proved to be extraordinarily ponderous but will, I hope, be eventually concluded. The first time I was involved in such issues was much  earlier when the BTC summarily nicked a small chunk of a museum-owned property in Mochudi. I battled to try and get some form of compensation for the museum but was simply told that it had been compulsorily acquired, not compulsorily purchased. My two experiences came instantly to mind when reading the advert placed by the Morupule Coal Mine in the Sunday Standard, Telegraph and doubtless all the other newspapers, together with the associated news stories, one of which was headlined, ‘MCM confirms Sebetela’s ‘unjustifiable’ P26 million compensation’. The story as set out in some detail by the Morupule Mine is seemingly so bizarre, so outrageous it is almost impossible to believe. In sum, the Mine needs an additional area of land for the development of a new open cast mine which will provide coal to the expanded Morupule B power station. The size of the area in question was unstated but apparently no less than 166 farmers would need to be compensated.

The Mine, together with the Ngwato Land Board, used the standard guidelines to arrive at appropriate figures for each of the affected individuals.

One hundred and sixty or perhaps 159 agreed and were paid unstated amounts. Six did not agree. The Land Board, according to the advert, in association with the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, then double backed on itself and agreed new terms which would give six of the farmers a revised P10 million between them and lifted Boyce Sebetela’s payment from the original P8,5 to P26 million. Understandably, the Mine was aggrieved. These amounts were so preposterously large that I started to play around with figures. The six objecting landholders would each receive varying amounts ,but the average would be P1.6 million each.

I am hugely ignorant about masimo but assume that none can match the size of any of the freehold farms.  But if, for the sake of argument, the six dissenting land holders possessed masimo of 20 hectares apiece, Rre

Sebetela’s tshimo must have been roughly twenty times as large i.e. 520 hectares equals, unsurprisingly, 5.2 square kilometres.

That is not only a lot of land, but it is also a lot of inherited land. What might there be on these masimo which has been so colossally valued? Housing of a kind, presumably, fencing, kraals, and possibly boreholes. 

Might it be boreholes, productive or dry, which explains these figures.

Is a borehole valued according to its yield or its mere existence? But let’s suppose that of the 166 landholders, it was only those six (or seven) who had equipped and working boreholes. If the Land Board eventually agreed that they should be paid P1.6 million each, we might assume that a fully equipped functioning borehole is valued at perhaps half a million pula. On this very simplistic basis, Rre Sebetela might possess perhaps 13 such boreholes! So far, so good, or more probably, not so good.

What will be the attitude of those 160 land holders who accepted the amounts offered them by the Land Board only to discover that at least one of the select few was, on the basis of a very different formula, now being assessed at three times the amount which had been originally calculated? The imminent cost to the country and taxpayer of this weird, sad scenario is, according to the Mine, no less than a grand total of P191 million, which will have to be passed on to the consumer, namely you and me! In addition, the decision to alter approved national guidelines for the benefit of a select few means the government has upended its own system – Land Boards being in essence institutions of central government.

A precedent is now being set, which means that no one in future can have faith in a system which can so selectively wobble.Why the government chose to shoot itself in its own foot must be a matter for speculation. But knowing now how these things work, it maybe that everyone involved with compensation issues should insist that it should wobble for them! Much wasted time would be avoided, however, if it were better known what qualifications are possessed by those six and in particular by the one, which might be shared by others involved in compensation issues. Those who do not qualify should not trouble the system.


Etcetera II



Gare go tsene eng?

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