The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation, Kefentse Mzwinila says to ascertain the absentee use of freehold land, there is a need to conduct an intensive field investigation.
He said this in parliament this week when responding to questions posed by Member of Parliament (MP) Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang who wanted the minister to update the house on the status of Tuli Block Farms.
Among others, he wanted Mzwinila to state the total number and ownership per nationality and how many farms are owned by absentee landlords and how many of them are not in productive use.
In response, he told parliament that currently there is an ongoing exercise to determine the development status of all farms in Botswana including those on State and Tribal Land.
“The conclusion of this exercise, which is anticipated during the next financial year will provide a more precise response to the question,” he said.
Gobotswang further enquired whether the minister would consider introducing a tax on farms that are not in productive use for a specified period, however, Mzwinila said this is something the Ministry would consider.
The Sefhare/Ramokgonami legislator also asked whether the Minister would consider creating a buffer zone between the commercial farms and Limpopo River to allow local communities access to the river for grazing, fishing, small scale riverbank irrigation and tourism.
But Mzwinila noted that the creation of a buffer zone between the river and the commercial farms requires negotiations with the farmers to expropriate some portions of land for the stated activities.
He said it should be noted that the middle of the river is the international boundary, which means South Africa will have to be engaged on the issue.
“However, my ministry will soon embark on an exercise to negotiate for a servitude/wayleave along our international boundaries to facilitate the opening of patrol routes for security purposes,” revealed the Minister.