To find fresh ideas to transform land reform into reality, stakeholders turn to their neighbours.
The government of South Africa is working towards a land redistribution policy. On March 3-6, 2020, its Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) invited members of the Land Network National Engagement Strategy in South Africa (LandNNES) on a learning journey to benchmark land administration in Gaberone, Botswana.
Botswana's Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Kefentse Mzwinila recently described land reform as “key and strategic for socio-economic transformation.” The trip was initiated to enable stakeholders to learn best practices and specialist skills from Botswana on land management, land administration, land acquisition, legal frameworks and policies.
“I participated because I wanted to learn from peers in government and civil society in Botswana on how they managed to navigate the issue of shifting land administration responsibilities from traditional leadership to local government over the last 50 years,” says Tshepo Fokane from the Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD).
Traditional authorities are also part of Botswana’s land governance and the country has a structured approach to information management. The mission wanted to also learn from this experience.
The delegation from South Africa was comprised of Department officials led by the Deputy Minister Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, Board Members from the Ingonyama Trust, Chiefs from the National House of Traditional Leaders, the Department of Traditional Affairs, South African Local Government Association (SALGA), and the ARD, which is a member of LandNNES. The Botswana delegation was headed by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services and included officials from the Land Tribunal, Surveys and Mapping, Deeds, Town and Country Planning, Land Information Systems, and the Policy and Research units.
Lessons from the exchange
For government agencies such as the DALRRD, whose mandate is to restore land rights and promote local development the big lesson was around the process of land allocation and how the government generates revenue from the process.
The exchange focused on how tribal lands could be registered. It took delegates through the step-by-step process on how tribal land can be registered and discussed associated problems. This was important for the Chiefs from the National House of Traditional Leaders who deal with land management issues daily.
The system of land administration in Botswana is based on the policy of decentralisation. The study tour urged for LandNNES to lobby for a decentralised land allocation approach in South Africa’s tribal land. Indigenous people in Botswana feel left out in the land reform process. For example, the San, Basarwa and Khoi are not allocated any land as indigenous peoples. To factor them in, spatial planning for land use should be an inclusive activity.