* Waiting list currently stands at 206 736 * President Masisi to set new allocation target

The achievement of reaching the target of allocating 100 000 plots across the country has reduced the waiting list by 60 percent, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed Tuesday in Kanye when handing over the 100 000th plot.

Masisi stated that as the government they are happy with this achievement after having directed the Minister of Lands and Water Affairs Dr Kefentse Mzwinila in 2022 to deliver the set target. The waiting list has been a pain in the neck for the government as allocation was slow. Masisi revealed that in 2019 the waiting list stood at 509 146 and currently stands at 206 736.

“This is a significant reduction in a short space of time. This has never happened before. In the past 8630 plots were allocated per year. At that time the numbers for applications were not going down but were increasing. One of the factors was that people were applying for plots all over the country,” Masisi said.

He applauded members and employees of the land boards, saying this is a clear indication of mindset change. “You increased plots allocation by 500 percent. If other ministries and government departments deliver 500 percent or half of that, we will realise transformation as a country.”

The president expressed concern at the level at which Batswana sell their land to foreigners. He said Botswana is one of the few small countries who are generous when it comes to land. According to Masisi if his government is given another mandate to govern in October this year, they will introduce some changes to ensure that Batswana do not lose their land to foreigners.

“The rate at which you are selling land to foreigners, the end results will be painful. We are going to have people with no ploughing fields and homes and sleeping in the streets while foreigners enjoy your wealth.

“People are going to be landless and foreigners will be owning land in tribal areas while they do not belong to any of the tribes in the country. People register their plot using companies and foreigners coming here and buy the company and automatically own the land,” Masisi remarked, adding that this is very dangerous for the country and its citizens. This observation was echoed by the president of Botswana Association of Tribal Land Authorities (BATLA) Kgang Kgang who also expressed concern at the level of land selling by Batswana especially the youth.

Kgang said a solution has to be found to ensure that people do not end up landless since once they have been allocated a plot, they would not be allocated another again. Masisi revealed that they are going to set a new target for allocation and this time it will be a big one and in line with Agenda 2036. He indicated that the next target will come with improved mapping that will ensure the increased value of the plots.

Just like Minister Dr Mzwinila who remains ready with his team for the next target that the president will set, Kgang expressed confidence that the 12 main landboards and 41 sub landboards currently in place, will be able to surpass the next target.

Minister Mzwinila told the gathering that they managed to reach the target without increased personnel or funding. “We know there have been criticism against this target and that we are not delivering as per our promise. But remember we managed to reach half of the target in a year. We were doing all these without increased human capital and increased fund.

“All we did was to prioritise on the Transformational Agenda and the Mindset Change. Which is why we managed with the little we had,” he said, adding that there were challenges encountered but they remained focused.

“First we needed land to allocate. So we had to get into negotiations with those who hold the land. When villages grow, they expand into ploughing fields. Ploughing fields then take the grazing land and grazing land eat into the wildlife management space. So we have to start with the process of engaging those people,” the minister explained.

He revealed that through this target allocation they have affected 280 000 families. “We want tangible developments that change the lives of Batswana positively. Our aim is to give you dignity by giving you the valuable asset that is the land,” he said.

Kgang stated that landboards personnel are overwhelmed with work as the same people used for allocations are the same who do land ownership transfers and other duties. “We have told ourselves that with the little we have we shall push until we reach the target. Our people worked long hours and even during the weekends. Our aim is to eradicate the waiting lists across the country.

“We have encountered some challenges but we addressed them. Even after this target, landboards will be meeting and allocations will continue,” Kgang promised.