Colonial govt practiced land apartheid- Masisi

Bame Piet

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi told hundreds of residents of Kanye that the British Colonial Government practised apartheid in Botswana enforced through land distribution and ownership.

When officiating at the allocation of the 100 000th plot at Losabanyane ward in Kanye on Tuesday, he said that white people were allocated huge chunks of land that were classified or registered as Freehold Land, with high value attached to them, whilst Batswana were allocated Tribal Land which was less valuable.

He said that one such example was the recently acquired 45 000 hectares from Tati Company for which the government paid over P2 billion.

“The colonial government was very tricky and cruel and came with conditions that for us to get our independence they should reserve huge chunks for their people.  They reserved fertile and valuable land for whites that was expensive to buy, even the government could not touch those. With Secure Tittles, the owners were able to acquire loans from commercial banks to improve their lives and get rich, whilst our tribal land was of less value,” he said.

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The president further said that even more interesting about the Tati company land is that it was acquired from a King in Zimbabwe, by British Missionary Cecil John Rhodes over a century ago. It is not clear how such arrangement came into being.

According to Masisi the Secure Land Tittle that was introduced for Tribal Land two years ago was to correct the anomaly and give value for plots owned by ordinary Batswana and equally valuable as that in Freehold Land.

He said that the 45 000 hectares belongs to all Batswana and those interested should apply for allocation when the time comes.

The President said that the land policy has disadvantaged Batswana for a long time and that many have lost their business and residential plots because they could not develop them within stipulated period.

“We are going to improve land allocation and use latest technologies to speed up the process in the National Development Plan12. We are going to come up with a plan that will take us to 2036, that will guide land governance for landboards. We can have different fees for various areas including for playgrounds for our children. What is happening right now is that when developments come, these playgrounds are taken”.

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President Masisi said that he hopes that new laws that the government wants to improve in the near future would make it difficult for foreigners to acquire land in the country, especially through buying from individuals.

He said that the waiting list that was at 509k in 2019 has been reduced by 60 percent to 208k in 2024, and one of the problems was slow allocation at 8k allocations per annum.

Minister of Lands and Water Resources said that achieving the 100k target was faced with challenges that include lack of skilled manpower, slow procurement processes, and litigation in some instances.

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He said that the government spent close to P10 billion in the recent allocations, meaning that each plot is valued at P102,000.

The recipient of the 100 000th plot was 27- year- old Lame Leesimane.

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