Ntuane at odds with Khama
In what is seen as a response to President Ian Khama’s idea that land allocation should be skewed in favour of original inhabitants of areas under allocation, for instance Batlokwa favoured against non-Batlokwa for land allocation in Tlokweng, Ntuane is expected to table a motion for revenue sharing for local communities. He said the same logic should apply when it comes to allocation of natural resources. This comes after President Khama said in a kgotla meeting in Ramotswa that a portion of land should be reserved for natives. Khama suggested that 70% should be allocated to the “owners of the land” especially around Gaborone while 30% should go to the “outsiders.” The motion was initially brought before parliament by South East South Member of Parliament, Odirile Motlhale, but was shot down by unhappy MPs who argued the practice would sow seeds of tribalism.
Speaking to The Gazette on Monday, Ntuane said there is a public debate around the issue of land. “To me the issue is how do we manage and share natural resources. That is the central question in this debate; which by the way I think is healthy. In a democracy all public policy issues must be debated and I think the issue of land has thrown up other questions. Land as far as I am concerned is a natural resource like any other. Therefore if there is a body of opinion that says we must set aside a quota for certain communities, in that case it is only fair to extend the same philosophy to other natural resources,” he argued. Ntuane said when the land quota issue came up he looked at his maternal grandmother and asked him why she and her community were so poor and yet there are the original inhabitants of the very area where the BCL cooper/nickel mine is located.
“In other countries they would be very wealthy from royalties and shareholding in that mine. But the development path we chose was unique, although some communities had to sacrifice in the process. People in Jwaneng, Boteti, Matsiloje, Dukwi and other areas have sacrificed so much in the interests of resource sharing and national unity. “If we adopt a land quota some will rightfully demand that their water should cater for them first because they can’t go thirsty and yet see their water reticulated to the rest of the country where they are barred from owning land by the quota system. How about those who will say we can’t allow electricity to be distributed to other parts of Botswana whilst we are in darkness but the coal used to generate power is found in our community. Would that be the correct way to build this nation? It’s a question that should exercise the minds of all Batswana,’ he said.
In 2007 when former President Festus Mogae addressed University of Botswana on the role of Natural resources in Botswana’s Socio Economic development, he said the basic tenet of the country’s development approach has been to optimise the benefits of revenues from natural resources by re-investing them into developing further productive capacity of the economy such as education and training, health, infrastructure and others. “The vesting of mineral rights in the state has allowed government to equitably spread services and development across the country, in fact, all natural resources are shared, that is why residents of districts with limited land can apply for land in any other part of the country with abundant land, similarly, water, electricity are drawn from one part of the country to service any part of the country,” the then president said.
However, Botswana Congress Party Secretary General Kesitegile Gobotswang declared that they are fully behind Ntuane’s motion and consider giving him support. He said there are other areas that produce the country’s resources but the people in those areas remain impoverished and bear the consequences of environmental degradation caused by mining these resources. “It’s a burden to those areas, the motion need to be debated exceedingly so that people understand. Something has to be done for other areas as well so that they also have a share. Natural resources should remain state property. We are not suggesting that people should own those resources but at least they should have something to console themselves with. We should benchmark and see how other countries do it. We cannot continue like this,’ he said.