Lands Ministry Powerless over Invaders

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK THE Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Isack Katali says his ministry has no legal powers to evict hundreds of illegal herders occupying communal areas under the Ukwangali Traditional Authority. Hundreds of unhappy residents of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority last Thursday staged a peaceful demonstration expressing their dissatisfaction with Government’s inaction on the highly sensitive issue. Previously, they appealed to the government to remove the illegal cattle farmers from their area. 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 areas under Ukwangali jurisdiction. In a petition handed over to the representative of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement Vilho Shikumwa, the demonstrators maintained their action had been prompted by government’s failure to resolve the matter once and for all since the problem started back in 1992. When approached for comment, Katali said his ministry was not responsible for the eviction of illegal settlers. He said this was the responsibility of the respective traditional authorities and land boards. “According to the Communal Land Act, it is the traditional authority through the land board that can terminate the stay of the people. What had happened is that the Ukwangali Traditional Authority worked through the land board and it was the land board that served people eviction notification letters. The minister only facilitated,” he stated. Last month, illegal settlers from the Ondonga and the Kwanyama tribes were served with eviction notification letters, reminding them that they had seven days to vacate the land or they would be served with eviction orders. This never happened. Katali on Monday said after the notification letters were served, it was the responsibility of the traditional authority to lay charges against the culprits and not Government. He added that Government was however assisting the Kwangali Traditional Authority to identify the culprits for charges to be laid against them. “We are in the process of facilitating to identify those people who have not moved in order to lay charges against them.”