Suspension of land allocation won’t affect youth projects – Mokalake

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The land should be planned and demarcated before any allocations are made, Minister of Lands and Housing Lebonaamang Mokalake said in Parliament last week. He was responding to a question by Nata/Gweta Member of Parliament (MP), Raynor Makosha.

The minister explained that the move is predicated on the inordinate costs associated with provision of infrastructure and services in haphazardly allocated areas, land disputes relating to double allocations and blockage of accesses to individual properties. “Nonetheless, youth projects like all others continue to be allocated land provided they meet the set requirements,” Mokalake said. The suspension has somehow become a worry to many hopefuls who wish to own land for residential or commercial purposes.The Gazette Business understands that towards the end of last year some land boards suspended land allocations in order to plan and pre-demarcate plots.Upon being informed of the suspensions, the ministry directed the land boards to continue allocating land. However, Mokalake explained that “in areas where land registration exercise is ongoing, land allocations shall be temporarily suspended” to allow for smooth transition.

He said the ministry has also directed land boards that in primary and secondary centres, which are planning areas, peri-urban areas and major villages, they must plan and pre-demarcate land before any allocations are made. This, he pointed, is critical for future settlements growth, infrastructure and services provision.

Whilst the allocation is under suspension, it is understood that essentially, the role of land boards has not been changed and will be as succinctly specifi ed in the Tribal Land Act. In an interview with Gazette Business, Kgosi Olebile Kgwarapi of Rasesa said it is disheartening to have the plot allocation suspension because many of the young generation are seeking for land to start their homes. He said that the land allocation in the past has not been evenly distributed; hence their children are now fi nding it hard to own land.

“Batswana are not used to leaving their respective villages in search of land away from their parents. We no longer have powers on land allocation, which is land boards’ responsibility. I suggest that the land policy should be reviewed,” he said. A young farmer and also the Botswana Young Farmers Association’s interim chairperson, Leatile Mokgware had earlier told Gazette Business that the issue of land is quite sickening.

“We are aware of adults who have idle lands in excess of as much as 200 hectares but when they are approached by the youth without land for leasing, they tend to refuse on the assumption that youth aren’t serious about farming when the opposite is true.” Mokgware said that there has been a deadlock that local farming fi nancier Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) through their Young Farmers Fund requires one to have a chunk of land as a prerequisite for funding.

This also goes to depress the youth in that the fi nancier needs an applicant to have a minimum stocking rate of 100 animals, now this in terms of land means 200 hectares (2ha per goat minimum stocking rate of 100). As a result, not many youth have that much land at this point in time, he said. MP Makosha had wanted to know why the allocation of land was suspended throughout the country and had requested the minister to further defi ne the role of land boards during the suspension periods. He also wanted to know what the ministry intended to do regarding youth projects that require land.