One of the issues that have united politicians across political aisle in Botswana is the ownership of land by the controversial Tati Company as it owns most of the land in the North East. Councilors at Francistown City Council have recently called government to reposess some of the land owned by the company and redistribute it to citizens.
Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Kefentse Mzwinila left Members of Parliament shocked when he confidently informed them that his ministry is not aware Tati Company owns more land than any other native Motswana. “The manual nature of the Deeds records cannot readily give me total size of land owned by any entity, including Tati Company. Therefore, I do not have statistics to either confirm or deny that Tati Company owns more land than any other native Motswana,” he said, adding that he doesn’t even know the market value of the land.
Tati Company which is owned by Bernard Glazer Will Trust with the chunk of land conceded in the late 19th century by the king of Matabeleland, Lobengula owns close to 40% of land in the North Eastern part of the country. According to investigations done by Ink Centre for Investigations last year it showed that Tati’s 2016 accounts, sourced from the UK company register, valued the company’s net assets at P366-million (about R470-million today) and its pre-tax earnings from the ownership and trading of land at P42-million (R54-million), with the profit mainly coming from the upward revaluation of its land holdings.
Asked if he has any plans to investigate Tati Compnay land ownership and dealings in land, Mzwinila answered in negative. “I have no plans to investigate Tati Company land ownership and dealings in land. However, when all land ownership and transactions are captured in an electronic system it should be easier for anybody to access information at the Deeds Registry as maybe needed,” he answered.
The question was asked by MP for Jwaneng-Mabutsane Shawn Ntlhaile. Outspoken MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane has been consistent in calling on government to investigate the company saying it has turned itself into a mini state. He said the company owns at least 200 square kilometers of land from Ditladi Village to Francistown, all of it without a title deed.
According to the 1911 Tati Concessions Land Act, the company once owned the whole of the Tati district, now known as the North East. The Act confirmed the company in “full, free and undisturbed possession as owners of all the land within the Tati District, the limits of which ... are … from the place where the Shashe River rises to its junction with the Tati and Ramokgwebana Rivers, thence along the Ramokgwebana River to where it rises and thence along the watershed of those rivers.”