FRANCISTOWN: Pandamatenga community members led by Kgosi Rebecca Banika have launched an appeal at the Francistown High Court, which is aimed at halting the allocation of 42 small-scale farms in the village through an open tender process.
The matter was initially heard and dismissed by the Francistown Land Tribunal.
“As we speak the Pandamatenga community has since appealed the Land Tribunal decision at the High Court. Allocation of the 42 small agricultural holdings at Mahabapi is still outstanding as the dates for the appeal to the High Court have not been set,” Johane Chenjekwa, Chobe Land Board chairperson told a press conference held at the Thapama Lodge recently.
He added, “The Land Board had resolved that allocation of the 42 small farms should be done through a public tender process as opposed to Pandamatenga community’s proposal that they be reserved solely for them, which was contrary to existing legislation governing the administration and management of tribal land in Botswana”.
In 2016, the government of Botswana entered into an agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the financing of the Pandamatenga Infrastructure Development Project. The loan given to Botswana was slightly over P450 million.
Among other objectives of the project, it aims to develop an appropriate water drainage system and access to road networks within the 42 Pandamatenga farms. To this effect, 2,500 hectares of the land was serviced under the agreement and subsequently demarcated into 42 Small Agricultural Holdings ranging from 25ha, with the biggest being 131ha.
This is not the first time community members led by Banika in Pandamatenga have approached the High Court querying the procedure for allocating farming land by Chobe Land Board officials.
In 2011 the (community members) made an urgent application before court to oppose the allocation of seven farms to two South African farmers through a tendering process, arguing that the allocation of the farms to the South Africans will greatly prejudice locals who have been on the waiting list for the past 12 months.
The Francistown High Court set aside a decision by Chobe Land Board to consolidate seven commercial farms into two and subsequently allocate them to South African farmers at the expense of the community. The court further ordered the Land Board to pay costs of the application.
Pandamatenga occupies prime land for arable agriculture due to the village’s relatively fertile soils.