There will be no special treatment for Batswana who have ‘disempowered themselves’ by disposing off their residential plots through beneficial transfer.
The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila made the remarks in Parliament recently when answering a question raised by Member of Parliament (MP) for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile.
Kekgonegile had asked the Minister to update Parliament on initiatives by the ministry to facilitate ownership of plots by Batswana who previously sold their plots before the law of banning sale of plots was introduced.
He had also wanted to know the number of residential and ploughing fields whose ownership was changed in Maun, Khwai, Mababe, Sankoyo, Shorobe, Sexaxa, Matapana, Samedupe, Makalamabedi and Matsaudi. Furthermore, Kekgonegile wanted to know the number of households and children affected by the change of ownership.
Responding to Kekgonegile’ s questions, Mzwinila said there were no initiatives to facilitate ownership of plots by Batswana who sold their own plots.
“In a free market economy such as ours, it is the right of every plot owner to, within the limits of the law, transact however they want with their property. Transfer of tribal land is not permissible without development. It is however permissible with development to the satisfaction of the Land Board,” Mzwinila said.
Mzwinila further stated that the transfer of State land also required development while for freehold land, transfers were allowed without development in terms of the law. He said the spirit of the revised Botswana Land Policy as approved by Parliament on August 8, 2019 is to promote equity in access to land and natural resources.
He added that the said policy also stated that each Motswana will be eligible for allocation of one residential plot at an area of their choice within the country, on both State and tribal land.
“Paragraph 58 of that land policy states, ‘additional plots may be acquired through the private market, inheritance or other legitimate channels recognised in law and policy. This means that those who have hitherto been allocated residential plots and subsequently disposed the subject plots through sale compromised their eligibility for subsequent acquisition or allocation of residential plots directly from the land authority,” he said.
Mzwinila further stated that such people could only acquire residential land through other legitimate means and not by direct allocation by land authority. He said paragraph 69 of the same policy further buttresses the above quoted paragraphs by pointing out that ‘once allocated land in a particular use category, one may not be eligible for allocation of land in the same category after alienating the plot’.
Addressing change of ownership in Maun East Constituency, Mzwinila said a total of 828 residential plots and 115 ploughing fields changed ownership in the specified villages from 2017 to date.
“The number of households and children affected by that change of ownership is not known. The ministry does not require applicants who change ownership of their plots to provide information on the number of households or children who reside in that plot,” Mzwinila added.