A group of disgruntled Pandamantega residents have dragged Chobe land board to the high court over the allocation of 42 small scale commercial farms.
The appellants led by their tribal leadership argue that the developed farms should only be allocated to locals as a way of empowering them to venture into small scale farming. Briefing the media in Francistown on Friday, the board Chairman, Johane Chenjekwa said the land board had resolved that allocation of the 42 small agricultural holdings at Mahabapi should be done through public tender as opposed to Pandamatenga community’s proposal that they be reserved solely for them which was contrary to existing legislation governing the administration and management of tribal land in Botswana.
“The community has since contested the land board’s decision to allocate the farms through public tender. The matter was heard by the Francistown Land Tribunal and concluded to dismiss the community‘s appeal and allowed us to continue with the proposed tender. As we speak the appellants have since appealed the Land Tribunal’s decision with the High Court,” he revealed. The Chairman underscored that allocation of the 42 small agricultural holdings is still outstanding as the dates for the appeal to the High Court have not been set. The development of the small scale farms was implemented after government entered into an agreement with the African Development Bank for the financing of the Pandamatenga Infrastructure Development Project, Chenjekwa said.
“The specific objective of the project was to develop appropriate water drainage system and access road network within Pandamatenga farms. The project intended to support the construction of drainage and road infrastructure, strengthen human and logistic capacities of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farm Associations,” he explained. To this effect, Chenjekwa stated that 2,500 hectors of the land was developed under the agreement into Small Agricultural Holdings and was demarcated with 42 Small agricultural holdings ranging from 25 hectors, with the biggest being 131 hectors.
On other issues, Chenjekwa told reporters that government has decided to terminate the contract of a company that was engaged at a tune of 84 million pula to service land that was going to be used to relocate some residents to make way for the Kasane-Kazungula re-development plan. The decision to terminate the contract was taken after the locally owned company failed to complete the project on time. He mentioned that the hunt for the new contractor is on-going adding that government will be forced to carry out another evaluation of properties owned by the affected communities in order to compensate them accordingly. He stated that government has taken a deliberate decision to revamp Kasane Township and Kazungula village in order to enhance the physical, social and economic character of the former as the District’s capital by the 2021. He buttressed that it is also very important that through the project, the economic potential of the areas can be unlocked especially looking at promoting the tourism industry in that part of the country to diversify the economy away from minerals.