Government has been cautioned to tread carefully when repossessing land from poor Batswana, Francistown West legislator has said. Tshelang Masisi expressed concerns that the on going arbitrary demolition of squatters could trigger incidents similar to Marikana mine tragedy in South Africa in the future. Several people died in Marikana when police opened fire to demonstrators over payment.
The outspoken legislator voiced concern that a decision by government to repossess land, targeting the poor and destitutes who are unable to develop their plots is ill informed and further impoverishes Batswana. Currently official statistics show that poverty remains at 23 percent in Botswana.
Masisi advised government to reverse its decision on the repossession of undeveloped plots. Masisi informed parliament when debating the state of the Nation Address that the decision to repossess undeveloped plots has resulted in people selling their land to the wealthy.
He said that the move could also bring wars in the country if the government continues to repossess the land. He said that Batswana were selling their plots amid fears that their land will be repossessed. “ People have fought over land in countries and if the government continues doing this we might witness wars that came as a result of land in the future,” observed Masisi.
Masisi also called the Ministry of Agriculture management to resign over the collapse of the Botswana Meat Commission and the beef industry, citing mismanagement and incompetence. The MP said that he has long suspected that there was an intention to leave the BMC to collapse with a sole aim of selling the BMC to a cartel known to the ministry.
Meanwhile Kgalagadi North MP, Philip Khwae also advised that President Ian Khama should replace the current minister of agriculture, saying it has become evident that the ministry was not doing well. He said that Khama could give Christian De Graaff another ministry because he has shown that he wants to be close to him.
On squatters the Minister of Lands and Housing , Lebonamang Mokalake explained that the ministry of lands consults before demolishing houses.He blamed squatters for failing to appear even before the courts when they are summoned saying they should take the blame for their troubles.He said that the landboards always apply to the courts before they demolish but people involved fail to turn up.