Ramotswa MP, Samuel Rantuana had brought a motion seeking Parliament to request government to carry out land audit as the current Land Administration Procedures Capacity and System (LAPCAS) is not addressing the issue of long waiting lists of plot allocation.
When presenting his motion, Rantuana said access to land in Botswana remains a contentious issue despite the country boasting vast freehold land a small population.
He stated that Botswana adopted the South African land tenure that was used to separate the whites from the blacks during the apartheid era. “Now our land tenure is not only separating the white from the blacks, but it is separating the rich from the poor,” he said.
He said when land management was transferred from Dikgosi to Land Boards, it was to address issues of land management and efficient land allocation, and there have, been far more challenges.
He said although government has come up with LAPCAS, it would address just symptoms and real problem.
“LAPCAS is experiencing implementation challenges in terms of land registration exercise. There are also issues of inadequate skills and unqualified land surveyors,” he said. Moreover, Rantuana indicated that currently, the waiting lists at many Land Boards across the country stand at over 50,000. He said citizens in urban areas wait for over 20 years to be allocated plots, forcing people to squatter. Rantuana said as it is, just a few people own huge chunks of land and it remains a mystery how they acquired it. He said many of it was acquired corruptly.
audit would uncover how these people acquired such land and those who got it corruptly to be prosecuted.
His opposition colleague and MP for Selibe-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse supported the motion. He said the LAPCAS exercise is just an administrative exercise of data collection compared to what the motion is seeking. “I support this motion Mr Speaker because it is timely. A comprehensive land audit will uncover corrupt and criminal practices in our land allocation processes and would come with proper recommendations for efficient land management,” said Keorapetse. According to the Phikwe legislator, Botswana is blessed with a huge mass of land in relation to its small population of over two million but that requires prudent management. He said the audit would help identify absentee landlords who own large chunks of undeveloped land while Batswana have nowhere to be settled.
He stated that State land allocation is shrouded in secrecy, corruption and maladministration. He said while the South African Parliament have recently passed a motion to have a land appropriated without compensation, Botswana should not go that route but impose a heavy tax on undeveloped land owned by absentee landlords.
“We all know who the land criminals own these huge undeveloped land. We should not appropriate without compensation, but impose a heavy tax on allocated freehold land after a covenant,” he added.
He called on the ruling party MPs to support the motion because the audit will be like an investigation process going deeper to find out exactly what went wrong with land.