Farmers question minister Seretse’ ranch

Some members of Lemakhumo community in the central district want Serowe Sub Land Board to explain why Defence, Justice and Security minister Ramadeluka Seretse was allocated land in an area set aside for communal grazing.

Lemakhumo comprises of Lehatshe, Mabuduloge, Khubulabobedi and Moriri settlements, and is located about 1.7 kilometres from Seretse’s house in Serowe. Botswana Guardian is in possession of letters exchanged by the community committee and the sub land board. On Christmas Eve they wrote to the land board complaining about ranches, which have been allocated within their settlements without their consent.

They further reminded government that in 1988, Ngwato Land board gave them the 14km piece of land under the chieftainship of the late Rasesoma Montsho. This paper has a copy of the certificate given to the community as a proof. What is fueling their anger is that the Sub Land Board had promised to respond by last Friday, but according to the committee secretary Boitumelo Mmolai, this has not come to pass.

In an interview, land overseer Letogeleng Maleme suspected that prominence worked for the minister. “We only saw him carrying big files at one of our meetings with the Land Board three years ago, next we see a big ranch fenced and hear that it is his,” he said. The old man is adamant that the piece of land given to Seretse violates their rights as owners of the area.

On why it took them long to raise their concerns, he said the Land Board had been delaying with their certificate, which they are now using as evidence. Failure to get the minister’s over two hectares ranch investigated will result in the committee taking the matter to president Ian Khama. This paper has also established that the land occupied by the minister was formerly an aeroplane-manufacturing site, called Lebala la Makgasa.

Next to the minister’s ranch is another one owned by one Thomson Manyala, an employee of the Department of Agriculture in Palapye. He told this paper that he was not aware of the community’s complaints about the land he occupies. However, he said they should embrace developments in the area. But on the minister’s ranch, he said he knew him as his master and could not be drawn into further discussion.

Meanwhile, a resident of Serowe Reginah Mongwaketse’s allocated land in Khubulabobedi was objected and cancelled in 2010. The grounds for the objection were that ‘the allocation was done without the consent of the people of the Lemakhumo and also within an area set aside for communal grazing purpose.’ She was thus advised and ordered to cease further developments on the said site. On this basis, the community wants transparency on Seretse’s land.

Seretse responds
The minister stated that the piece of land belonged to his uncle, first president Sir Seretse Khama who then gave it to his mother Naledi Seretse. He said that his mother gave it to him after government found out that the boreholes erected there by the Land Board for farming did not produce enough water.

“The Land Board then gave it to me and subsequently, I applied for water and then bought a borehole,” he said. He explained that he took long without developing it, which could be the reason why its development unsettles the community.

And contrary to the belief that it is a ranch interfering with the Lemakhumo communal land grazing purposes, Seretse said the purpose of his land encompasses all agricultural activities, noting that he ploughs and rears goats in the area.

He added that his neighbour Manyala recently approached him with forms indicating that he wanted to expand and do mixed farming, which he signed. Ngwato Land board principal information and public relations officer Chandapiwa Baputaki said they were aware of the allegations by a group of farmers in Lemakhumo and added that they have submitted them to Serowe Sub Land Board.

“Since the matter is still pending determination by the Sub Land Board, it is not procedural to comment on it at this stage as it may prejudice the outcome,” she said.

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 16:12

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