The Minister of Lands and Housing Prince Maele say government will not trample on people’s constitutional rights by preventing them from buying and selling land.
Maele was responding to Kgosi Letso Malema of Bobirwa who had tabled a motion requesting government to consider coming up with a policies that will limit the number of plots bought by one person to curb a situation whereby the rich are the only ones who possess land. According to Maele government has however made provisions in the new Land Policy which was passed by parliament in July, that no one will be allowed to sell the last piece of land they possess. “ One can sell as many as they have but will have to remain with at least one plot of residence,” he said. The Minister also argued that as it is Botswana laws do not allow people to trade in land but can only sell developments within.
“If one choose to venture into real estate, then it is not within government’s jurisdiction to prevent them, we cannot force people to be farmers or trade in shares if they do not want to be. Why should we limit those who want to sell their land,” said Maele.
Maele told members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi to rest assured that all gaps have been addressed by the new land policy and that government is dedicated to ensuring that every Motswana has an opportunity of owning land
However when contributing to the motion Kgosi Thabo Maruje III of Masunga accused some moneyed individuals of greed and cheating poor members of the society out of their land because their economic situation forces them to sell. These unscrupulous individuals according to Kgosi Maruje are what government policies should be addressing and guarding against. Though he noted that the land policy does not allow the sale of undeveloped land, a loophole has been identified by the same crooked individuals he says, who before officially changing land ownership will make developments in the piece of land themselves to facilitate a smooth transfer.
The clearly agitated Maruje spoke at length about how this unscrupulous individuals have now made it a habit to dangle money before the disadvantaged, the idea being to entice them and rob them of the only possession capable of affording them a life with dignity. “ the economic gap is growing by day among Batswana, the only solution left is to protect the only possession they have which can bridge the gap,” Maruje said.
Maruje bemoaned that amidst all this, Batswana were their worst enemies too as they continue selling land despite of numerous warnings and advise given by government and other leaders. “Because the evidence is there, that Batswana are selling land in numbers, it is up to government to protect them. I appreciate that this is a free market economy, but it will be sad to see only those with money being the only people owning land,” Maruje bemoaned.
The youthful traditional leader also took a swipe at capitalism, saying the profit orientated system is the main reason why certain people especially those with resources are only interested in amassing their wealth regardless of who gets hurt in the process.
For his part the mover of the motion Kgosi Malema indicated that he was not satisfied by the response he got from Minister Maele. According to Malema although Maele spoke of how they intend to afford every citizen to own at least one plot of land, authorities also need to guard against people who buy land. “We cannot have one individual owning more than 100 plots while there are a lot others are still awaiting allocation,” Kgosi Malema said to this publication.
Malema stated that he will after taking a look at the amended land policy keep a close eye on how land issues are addressed and will advocate for fair land allocation and ownership. His motion was nonetheless rejected by his fellow Dikgosi. The motion comes at a time where Botswana is battling with land allocation. Land Boards across the country on the other hand are battling with dealing with land allocations requests and attending to many other incoming land applications.