Staggering amount needed to service plots for land allocation
The Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services is in desperate need of cash.
Presenting his budget proposal last week, Minister Kefentse Mzwinila revealed a staggering P94 billion is required to service residential plots before they can be allocated to citizens.
With hundreds of thousands of citizens on the waiting list for land allocation – some have already been in line for over a decade – it seems for many the wait is set to rumble on indefinitely.
“We need an amount of P94 billion to service plots that Batswana need. But we don’t have that money and we don’t even dream of having that amount!” admitted Mzwinila.
He explained the government is looking for ways these plots can be serviced to bring necessities such as water, electricity, and sewage infrastructure.
One possible solution could be to treat Tribal Land, which currently falls under Land Board authority, the same as State Land, which falls under the domain of central government.
“Under the State Land, the owner of the plot pays part of the total costs for servicing the land. Now the question is, has the time not arrived for one to pay these costs even under the Tribal Land?” queried Mzwinila.
The Minister further noted that many of the plots allocated to citizens in the past remain completely undeveloped.
He conceded that whilst the government has not come up with a resolution regarding such cases, it was high time ‘a discussion is held with owners’.
“On the other hand, we have over 600, 000 applicants, then we have those that have been allocated plots but they are yet to be developed,” said the Land Minister, pointing out that some of the undeveloped plots were allocated back in the 1960s.
Turning his attention from land to water, Mzwinila stressed there is a need for government to undertake ‘a mega water project’ to avoid a situation where the country runs dry – something he warned was a real possibility due to climate change.
To that end, he disclosed the government’s ambition to draw water from the Chobe/Zambezi region and Lesotho.
Additionally, Mzwinila made mention of Botswana’s plan to draw water from the Atlantic Ocean through Namibia, as announced by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in his recent trip to the country.
“We have to implement one of these projects in the next 10 years because they are mega-projects,” he declared.
The Minister further announced that Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) is owed P1 billion by customers.
He explained the main reason the debt ballooned was that the government made the decision not to disconnect water during the State of Public Emergency (SoPE) to encourage people to wash their hands as part of the Covid-19 prevention protocols.