- Total of P286.6m owed to land boards - Ngwato land board owed the most at P100m

Land Boards across the country are owed approximately P286.6 million that needs to be collected to allow them to continue doing what they are mandated to do.

Botswana Association of Tribal Land Authorities (BATLA) President, Johane Chanjekwa said this week that revenue collection is important as Land Boards use the collected resources from Lease Rentals to sponsor their activities, in addition to budget provisions made by Government through the Revenue Support Grant.

Of the 12 Land Boards, Ngwato tops the list at P99.5 million, followed by Tawana at P52 million and Kweneng at P27.9 million, while the least owed being Tlokweng at half a million Pula.

Chanjekwa further said with the new Tribal Land Act of 2018, it is expected that Land Boards will be more efficient in delivering services, something most Batswana have been complaining about.

Among key provisions of the New Act, is that it permits transfer of Land Board functions and powers to other bodies with the consent of the Minister. Under this provision, according to Chenjekwa, other institutions apart from the Land Authorities are given powers to plan for and allocate land to meet their business models.

“For example, right now Special Economic Zones Authority can apply for land and administer it in line with their interests which is to secure and attract investors to Botswana,” he said. He added that this would go a long way in cutting the long chain of processes that would need to be followed for one to be allocated land.

Chenjekwa who is also Chobe Land Board Chair said to improve customer satisfaction through timeously meeting set service delivery standards, the Act provides for the establishment of Land Board Committees to enhance efficiency. The Committees, according to Chenjekwa allows Boards to enlist community members with special expertise and skills that are lacking within Land Board personnel to be members of these committees. He further

explained that these Committees would come in handy in instances where the Board is not available to make a certain decision. “Such a Committee can sit and make a decisions, especially if it is not major decision.”

Another interesting provision that is expected to ensure effective and efficient running of Land Boards is that the Law allows for consultation with Tribal Administration and District Councils in formulation of policies. He explained that this provision fulfills the requirement that Land Board ‘hold land in trust’ of local communities in their areas of jurisdiction.

Chenjekwa explained that individual Land Boards could design their own policies to help administer land in their area.

“For example, a particular Land Board can bring in traditional leaders and Dikgosi and get their buy-in in issues pertaining to land allocations because they have done it before and their wealth of knowledge and experience can be harnessed,” he said.

Chenjekwa further said such policies could integrate community interests in Land Administration and Management Policies and Programmes possessed by village leadership in local communities.

The new Act also introduces market value as one of the factors to be considered in determining adequate compensation.

The intended outcome according to Chenjekwa is that this will economically empower Batswana by ensuring that they are compensated adequately when rights are granted to use land that is reposed for public good. Section 34 of the Act, discourages sale of land to non-citizens. For one to sell, the law requires them to publicise in the Government Gazette and obtain consent of Land Board where land transactions are proposed in favour of a non-citizen.

According to Chenjekwa, this provision will accord Batswana to improve their socio-economy through “First Opportunity” when land becomes available in the open market.

“It will reduce expropriation of land rights to non-citizens but rather encourages sub-leasing by citizens to improve security of tenure across all land uses by Batswana.”