By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK DENYING responsibility and blame shifting is perhaps how recent developments regarding hundreds of herders who illegally settled in the communal areas under the jurisdiction of the Ukwangali could be described. The Chairperson of the Kavango Region Land Board, Kakuni Rengura has come out strongly against the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement’s assertion that it has no powers to evict illegal herders from the Ondonga and Kwanyama tribes grazing in areas belonging to Ukwangali. Lands and Resettlement Deputy Minister Isack Katali early this week said the issue of illegal settlers was a responsibility of the respective traditional authorities and the land boards. In terms of the Communal Land Act, he said, it was the Ukwangali Traditional Authority through the land board that could terminate the stay of the settlers. Yesterday, Rengura disagreed with the deputy minister’s claim, saying that from the regional level, the Land Board had no authority to evict these people. After all, he said, the decision to have these farmers vacate Ukwangali was a Cabinet decision. “It was a Cabinet decision and we only cannot activate the decision. The instruction came from the Minister of Lands and Resettlement. It’s from the top,” said Rengura. “If people should speak out, they should tell the truth and stop shifting the blame. We know what the story is, why not face it straight forward and solve it instead of shifting it to the regional level,” he said, adding that it was unfair to shift the blame to the land board as it was established some few years ago, long after the problem was created. “The land board was established about five years ago. They cannot shift things over to the land board,” he said. Several months ago, the Government called on all those who are illegally settled in the western part of the Kavango Region to withdraw, and those illegally grazing their cattle in those areas to stop such illegal action. It gave them time until end of October to do so or face legal action. The order was flouted, prompting the Ukwangali Traditional Authority to write a letter to Government requesting issuance of eviction orders. Instead, eviction notification letters were sent out last month directing those involved to leave within seven days of the issuing date. To date, only a few illegal settlers have left. The remainder have appealed for more time until the rainy season in January to avoid possible death of their cattle. Last Thursday, hundreds of unhappy residents of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority staged a peaceful demonstration expressing their dissatisfaction with Government’s inaction on the highly sensitive issue. The demonstration, which took place at the Kahenge tribal Offices, some 120 km west of Rundu, mainly addressed the delay in the removal of the illegal cattle herders and their cattle from their areas. Chief Daniel Sitentu Mpasi of the Ukwangali announced during the demonstration that enough was enough and that his subjects had suffered at the hands of illegal cattle herders for a long time.
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