Traditional Council Struggles with Service Delivery

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By Frederick Philander BETHANIE The deteriorating welfare of some 200 communal farmers in the Bethanie area remains a constant headache for members of the traditional council. This is the view of senior traditional council member, Salomon Swartbooi, who, together with two other council members, spoke candidly to New Era on Tuesday about the problems they perpetually face at the town. “The welfare of Nama communal farmers is our single most important function to look after as members of the traditional council. Many of these farmers are dependent on the animals such as goats, cattle and donkeys they sell for economic survival. A great number of them are retired and receive government pensions with which they can hardly make a living,” complained Swartbooi. According to Swartbooi, most of the farmers are unemployed. “We are constantly trying to create work opportunities for them, but with very little success. The latest job-creation project is the creation of game conservancies through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. We are confident that this project will work for the farmers as well as for the struggling community Trust Fund that was established to assist the whole community. A requirement from the ministry is that the word ‘clan’ must be amended in the Conservancy Act before the council can start implementing the conservancies,” said Swartbooi. Council member, Hendrik Frederick, complained about the problems the council has with the application of the Land Reform Act of 2002. “This Act, aimed at helping communal farmers, does not work properly because of the many shortages therein, such as money to provide transport for the proper demarcation of the land over a large area. Many communal farmers, who have paid for their land to be formally demarcated, are constantly blaming the traditional council for applying delaying tactics in delivering proper service,” said Frederick. Councillor Fredrika Nassau was totally against the abrupt discontinuation of clinic services to communal farmers. “These medical services had for a long time been provided to the many communal farmers, but one day it was just abruptly and summarily stopped by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. One has to bear in mind that many of these communal farmers live in total isolation and have no access to medical facilities whenever they fall ill,” said Nassau.