Expropriation without compensation illegal
20 Nov 2023
Government cannot expropriate parcels of land without compensation to the owners as it will be an offence against the law.
Speaking in Parliament on November 17, Minister of Lands and Water Affairs, Dr Kefentse Mzwinila said government could only acquire land from private holders compulsorily, which would require negotiations and funds.
“Such individuals have been allocated that land legally in the first place, and even those that acquired the land from tribal groups before independence did that through legal agreements,” he said.
Dr Mzwinila further indicated that even reclaiming land from those suspected to have acquired it dubiously would not be that easy as it would require a court route to determine the legality of those agreements.
“There were some agreements that were done between 1966 and 1970, and it would require court route to rule whether or not acquisitions through such agreements were legal or not. So most of these landowners have a legal defence,” he said.
Mr Mzwinila also said one of the agreements upon granting of independence was that the land rights of former colonialists would be safeguarded.
“This was actually a wise deal because it prevented war, unlike in other African countries where natives had to go to war to reclaim their independence and land,” he said.
Dr Mzwinila also indicated that government had acquired about 5 000 hectares of tribal land in Gaborone North to allocate to those on the waiting list.
On other land issues, Dr Mzwinila revealed that a couple of years back, it took about P150 000 on average to service a single plot and that the amount had obviously increased.
He said servicing a plot meant reticulating water, electricity, telecommunications, constructing roads and sewerage systems.
He said government had in the past engaged the private sector to assist with land servicing, proposing to compensate them with a piece of land, but the negotiations hit a snag as the private companies demanded too much land.
As a remedy for the shortage of land in Gaborone, Dr Mzwinila explained that a Development Control Code was on the cards, which would allow residential plot owners to change land use to high-density units, enabling them to construct multi-storied buildings.
Dr Mzwinila’s response was after MP for Gaborone Central, Mr Tumisang Mangwegape-Healy proposed that government should consider expropriating without compensation, land from owners whom he said had acquired land illegally from tribal groups.
He said that was necessary especially since buying the said land back would be too costly to government and might take time.
He also enquired about the average cost of servicing a single plot and suggested that government should consider engaging the private sector to assist in land servicing.
Mr Mangwegape-Healy also enquired about what government had planned for the expansion of the city, which he said was initially established for just 10 000 people, but its population had since exploded to about 300 000.
“Shortage of land is now such that even people who have applied for residential plots as far back as 1990 are still on the waiting list and there are even rumours of corruption at the SHHA office, with allegations that one can be moved to the bottom of the waiting list,” he said.
On the other hand, MP for Gaborone North, Mr Mpho Balopi suggested that government should encourage construction of multi-storied buildings to save land.
He said this was more so that the demand for land in Gaborone would always escalate as the city was growing drastically. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : Olekantse Sennamose
Location : GABORONE
Event : Parliament
Date : 20 Nov 2023