A union official has dismissed President Ian Khamaâ€™s plan to override Parliament and enforce land quotas in favour of residents of areas near cities.
The Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) secretary general, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, has said that in contradiction of what Parliament has debated and agreed upon, Khama is guilty of populist posturing.
“Land is a serious and delicate issue that doesn’t require mere populist posturing. It requires diligence, because if not handled properly, chaos is bound to erupt,” he said.
He urged the government to get to the bottom of the land issue before preferential treatment, such as the land quota system is, even thought of as a solution problem.
“There is no shortage of land as the country is geographically vast with just a handful population,” Motshegwa said.
“There is plenty of under-utilised virgin land but the problem is that certain areas are populated due to the fact that developments are concentrated in one area.
This self-made land shortage is due to rural urban migration in search of better livelihoods.
As a result, Gaborone and surroundings areas are congested as a result of the concentration of opportunities,” he explained.
The unionist said government neds to spread development across the country and create more administrative cities to reduce the burden and pressure from Gaborone. He said robust rural development is overdue in order to change the status quo.
He added that land quotas could set a dangerous precedent, where Batswana closer to natural resources other than land, could demand a similar arrangements. “For instance, the people of Mmadinare who are closer to Letsibogo Dam could call for water quotas to start up fishery projects, or even those closer to mines could end up asking for the same treatment when it comes to resource beneficiation and job opportunities,” he said.
Motshegwa said land quotas must have supporting policies that would ensure that those who benefit do not end up selling land to outsiders. “In many instances, people who are given land don’t have the means to develop it, and they end up selling it because there are limited opportunities in this country,” said Motshegwa.
“If implemented, the quota system should be tied to other policy issues that would enable these people to develop, instead of selling land after acquisition,” he explained.