MASUNGA: The government has bought 20 farms to alleviate land shortages in the North East District (NED).
Tati East Land Board chairperson, Kgotlaetsho Morakanyane, told Mmegi yesterday that one of the purchases is a 615-hectare farm known as 55 OQ along Vukwi River, east of Mambo village.
The land board officer said they have allocated land from other farms they bought to different government departments. He said that even though the district is faced with land shortages, some of the land might end up not being used for residential purposes. “We have to strike a delicate balance when allocating land because some areas are short of land for grazing and residential purposes while some are not. Every department that has been allocated land will utilise it according to its most pressing needs,” Morakanyane explained.
He admitted that there is an acute shortage of residential land in parts of NED like Tati Siding and Matshelagabedi and encouraged residents to look for land in other districts. “The systematic land allocation for future development delays its allocation as certain procedures must be followed,” he said.
Morakanyane added that land should be fully serviced before it is allocated to people to avoid a situation where residents will struggle to service the land on their own. He stated that all people who had applied for plots have being given land. At a recent council meeting, Morakanyane encouraged councillors who complained bitterly about the operations of the Land Board, to inform their constituents to make follow-ups with the land officials. The councillors were commenting over the lengthy delays in processing applications for residential and commercial plots. They said that land shortage hinders developments in the district. They groused that it takes years before people are allocated land in the district.
As a result, youth projects that are funded by government end up collapsing since renting private land is very expensive.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor for Themashanga, Kudzani Tobokwani said that residents are concerned about the period of time it takes for one to be allocated a plot. He stated that in his ward, residents were last allocated plots in 2013.
Tobokwani wanted the Land Board to fully explain why it takes long for residents to be given land, which in extreme cases, forces residents them to buy land.
“I also want the Land Board to explain why it takes a long time to give people land but is quick to repossess the same land if people do not develop it. People end up using the money they have saved to develop their plots for other important purposes because it takes an unreasonably long period of time for them to be allocated land.” Councillor for Tati Siding East, Scotch Majama of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) expressed concern that the youth are not getting government funding for businesses because they do not have land.
He pleaded with government to find a way of solving the problem because the majority of youth are grappling with unemployment. “I propose that the Land Board should deliberately consider reserving a large chunk of land to the youth where they can group themselves and do business.”
Councillor for Tati Siding West, Dumani Kelepi, of the ruling BDP questioned the procedure that the Land Board uses to allocate land because a lot of people in his ward have long applied for community and civic plots with little success. “Since last year, people have paid P300 to apply for plots but have not been told when the plots would be allocated,” said Kelebi.