By Anna Ingwafa
The Ovawambo Herders Association will abide by last month’s High Court ruling to withdraw their livestock from the Uukwangali traditional district in the Okavango Region.
The group said this in a petition to President Hifikepunye Pohamba in which they aired their grievances.
The group however expressed dissatisfaction with their experience in Uukwangali district between the Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions.
They questioned the authenticity of the High Court ruling, saying they learned about the ruling through the media. “This came as a surprise to us and we doubt the authenticity of the report, as we were not informed officially through our lawyers,” states the petition.
They said that Ovawambo cattle herders settled in Uukwangali district in the late 80s and early 2000.
“We (Ovawambo Herders Association) entered the Uukwangali district courtesy of the tribal chiefs concerned in the late 1980s and early 2000; there was no tension, conflict of interest in terms of grazing or resettlement or whatsoever,” they say in the petition
The group explained that only in 2004 and 2005 they experienced problems with being chased away with their cattle from Uukwangali district with allegations that they entered the district illegally.
They noted that they gave the petition in 2005 to the Oshikoto and Ohangwena governors but they did not get official responses.
“In 2004 and 2005, we did not vacate the place however, because we knew that we entered the place legally and the communal grazing in Owamboland is fenced off by some farmers and thus forcing us to move into Uukwangali district.
“As a result of our refusal to vacate the Uukwangali district, in the same year 2005 we were served with an eviction order from the Kavango Communal Land Board, ordering us to move out of Uukwangali district with immediate effect.
“Because this order was not from the High Court, we refused to move and obey such an order,” reads the petition.
According to the herders, the law that the Kavango Communal Land Board claims to have used in their eviction was only passed in August 2002, after they had settled long ago in the district.
“Therefore, we strongly understand that it does not have the power to evict us.”
They told the Head of State that they challenged the Kavango Communal Land Board order and took their case to the High Court on December 14 2006. The court ruled that they move back into Uukwangali district to graze their cattle as usual.
It is upon that court ruling that the Uukwangali Traditional Authority challenged the ruling, and the hearing on November 28 2007 “proved futile with no judgment given, as a case or judgment was postponed under shady circumstances. We now call upon His Excellency, the President of Republic of Namibia, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, as head of state to intervene as a matter of urgency, so that we can be resettled or be taken back where we came from if we are not Namibians.”
The mass withdrawal was finally done on Saturday.
The animals were withdrawn from Uukwangali traditional district till the corridor that borders Kavango, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions.
Chairperson of the Ovawambo Herders Association Vilho Hamunyela handed over the petition to Acting Regional Officer Daniel Kashikola who acted on behalf of Ohangwena Governor Usko Nghaamwa.
Okavango Governor John Thighulu, Mpungu Constituency Councillor David Hamutenya and Okahenge Councillor Sikongo Josef Sivaku were present at the final withdrawal of the cattle held at Oshashi village between Uukwangali constituency, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions.
More than 30 farmers withdrew their animals from Kavango and they are now grazing in the corridor with no proper grazing area.