Ministry of Lands Management, Water and Sanitation, some officials from Ngwato Landboard and some former cabinet ministers are under the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) radar over the 3 159 plots at Dibokwe Infrastructure Development project in Palapye.
The project which started in 2013 with a budget of P3.8 billion but shot to P4 billion is the first of its kind in Botswana as it include 75 kilometres of tarred internal roads, storm water drainage system, 65 km of water reticulation, 63 km of sewer reticulation, four lift pump stations, underground internet fibre network as well as access road to A1 road.
Information gathered by this publication has shown that government is sitting on a serious land scandal after some officials allocated themselves plots in the country’s first serviced land project by fronting through their relatives and friends .
DCEC is said to have been alerted to the issue after it was discovered that most of the people who were allocated the plots started selling them after a one roomed house was built. “The plots were mostly bought by some senior officials from Landboards and ministry of Lands with one former cabinet minister buying more than 10 plots in the area,” revealed the source.
During investigations it was discovered that most the sellers had links with the buyers either as blood relatives or acquaintances. The investigations are said to have also discovered that most of the plots were already sold with less than 10% being still in the hands of those that have been allocated the plots.
Further, there are allegations that there is a plan by some land speculators and property moghuls to turn Dibokwe into a high end premier residential estate targeting well resourced businessmen who are moving into Palapye. Palapye has recently transformed into a hive of activities and an investment hub in the Central District with four shopping centres already completed along the busy A1 Gaborone-Francistown Highway. The village, which is one of the fastest growing centres in the country, is home to multi billion pula developments among them Morupule B Power station, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), the failed Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Plant, Morupule Colliery and Central District Police headquarters.
DCEC is said to have confiscated the plots files and those who have bought the plots are finding it difficult to develop their plots.
“I bought two plots at Extension 11 and have been trying to get the plot certificate but was told by officials at Palapye Landboard that the file is missing. They promised to contact me,” revealed one of the buyers of the plots.
Since the area was handed over to government by the Chinese contractor Zhengtai, it is characterised by incomplete one roomed structures. “These were built to facilitate for the transfer of the plots before DCEC nabbed them,” revealed a highly placed source in the Ministry of Land Management.
Early this year Palapye Sub District Council assistant council secretary Lucky Maoto raised a concern about the mushrooming of structures at the area and that the developers were violating the council’s building Act. He complained that some occupants were even constructing pit latrines in the new plans, something that is not allowed as the area has been declared planning area.
Since Palapye is a planning area all the building plans are supposed to be approved by council before construction can start.
DCEC and Ngwato Landboard had failed to respond to a questionnaire sent to them a week ago.