Nuances of Compulsory Land Acquisition and Compensation in Botswana
The Case of the Pitsane-Tlhareseleele Road Project
For years compensation has been awarded for compulsory land acquisition in Botswana and land acquisition for infrastructure projects is typically accompanied by dissatisfaction by displaced families. This is particularly the case on communal/customary land where affected parties tend to have an unclear understanding of the legal procedures that govern and inform acquisition and compensation. Often these issues of dissatisfaction relate to the misinterpretation of the legal frameworks. However, limited research has been conducted to examine the perceptions of the displaced persons and the expropriating authority as to the adequacy of the compensation payment. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how they are interpreted by each party to identify how they can be improved to better align with both parties. This paper seeks to examine the views of both the affected persons (occupying customary land) as well as the expropriating authorities (expropriating the land) in a bid to inform policy and practice, and to contribute to existing debates on compensation for expropriation. A case of the Pitsane-Tlhareseleele road project where portions of land were expropriated from customary land holders was used. Data were collected through key informant interviews and document analysis. The results of this study revealed differences between the perceptions of affected people and those of the expropriating authority. Government officials believed that the compensation offered was satisfactory, as everything was prepared in keeping with the provisions of the law. However, the affected persons were of the view that the compensation they received was not satisfactory, even though the compensation was paid in accordance with the existing statutory framework. The study concluded that this difference in perception emanates from the use of different yardsticks to measure adequacy. These differences in perception could be minimised if the existing statutes are amended to make it mandatory for the affected people to be actively involved in the property valuation process.