Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central Dumelang Saleshando saved parliament from national embarrassment when he forced the Minister of Lands and Housing Lebonaamang Mokalake to defer the bill on the amendments of the sectional titles act.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) legislator together with Tati West MP Charles Tibone from the beginning of the debate on the bill raised some misgivings about the amendment noting that they are contradicting the Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) policy.
The bill seeks to amend the sectional titles act in order to allow and make it mandatory for any developer to give citizens including a citizen tenant, the first option to acquire a unit of an existing building and of a building that is newly erected or in the process of being erected before selling to a foreigner tenant if no citizens shows any interest to purchase the unit.
When Mokalake was about to move the bill, Saleshando raised a point of clarification and pointed out to the minister that he has not answered the question on how the new amendments will complement the BHC policy which states that it can only sell to citizens.
In answering, Mokalake said that the BHC policy is no longer applicable as it is in contradiction to the Botswana constitution and can be challenged in a court of law, to which the Gaborone Central MP asked when it stopped being applicable.
Saleshando asked the minister when the policy was stopped and if it was ever passed by the parliament. It was now clear that minister was at pains in explaining when the BHC policy was stopped as the speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha kept on reminding him that he is not answering the question.
Minister of Defence, Justice and Justice, Ramadeluka Seretse tried to come to his colleague’s rescue on a point of elucidation, only to confuse him further when he stated that BHC policy still stands.
“BHC builds houses solely for Batswana while a private developer sells 60% of their units to citizens,” said Seretse as Mokalake scratched his head. Realising that Mokalake was not sure about the current status of the BHC policy, Nasha asked him to defer the bill in order to do further consultation. It was becoming clear that Saleshando had put Mokalake in a tight corner as the former asked for a break in order to consult with BHC officials outside parliament.
When he came back, Mokalake who seemed to be more confused asked for the bill to be deferred to the following day. On Wednesday, Mokalake asked that the bill be deferred to a later date as he is still consulting.
During the debate, Member of Parliament for Tati West, Charles Tibone, dismissed the bill, accusing theminister of bringing a half-baked piece of bill which borders on the rights of other people.
He called on the minister to go and do thorough consultation and research as the amendment has many loop holes.
One of the clauses of the new amendment states that it will be mandatory for a developer to give every tenant who is a citizen the first option to acquire a unit, and to give a citizen the first option to acquire a unit occupied by a non-citizen without giving the non-citizen tenant the first option to do so.