oa Botswana Notes & Records - Botswana: a country in need of land policy reform

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0525-5090



Land provides the base for economic development in most countries of Africa. The development of land policies in these countries is often a politically sensitive matter. Many peasants in Zimbabwe are very disappointed and feel let down by the Mugabe government which has not yet re-distributed land as it had promised during the liberation struggle and after taking over power in that country in 1980. In South Africa, the controversy over land re-distribution is at the heart of deep mistrust between Blacks and Whites, and is the underlying reason for Whites to project the African National Congress as a Communist organisation. A grasp of the dynamics of land matters, especially the manner of the development of land policy, is crucial for understanding the politics as well as the social order of most African countries. A primary question in land studies, currently, is how land is shared amongst the people and how they manage it. It is a question of ownership (or access to this resource) and technology. It would appear that the ownership aspect has dominated the whole land question. Increasingly, the trend has been for a move from the commonage to private control of this resource. This process has occurred at the expense of the vast majority of the smaller and poorer livestock farmers who have been rendered landless as their more powerful countrymen have appropriated for themselves land from the commons through land policies that purport to conserve the range and make the optimal use of this resource. While it might be ideal to present a comparative study of land matters in the countries mentioned in this abstract, for reasons of space limitation this paper focuses only on Botswana. It shows how Botswana's ruling class, most of whom are also cattle barons, enact land policies which are likely, ultimately, to alienate the commons at the expense of the small scale livestock farmers who are in the vast majority in a country that is essentially livestock producing, with less emphasis on arable production. The special focus of the paper is on the problems faced on the ground by the institutions that have the mandate to administer land, as that resource grows increasingly scarce. In this respect, it brings into discussion the arable and the livestock farmers of various levels. Finally, the paper shows how urgent it is for Botswana to reform its land policy backwards, that is, by re-instituting the commonage, and by discouraging land privatisation. The paper emphasises that such a retreat requires the necessary technology that will optimise communal use of the land.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error