Study Challenges Govt on Resettlement

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

A study into the land use of three resettlement farms has recommended that the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement should urgently assess resettlement farms.

Final year students in Land Management at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Kesentseng Masotho and Mapaseka Tsiu, last year carried out a research into land use on the resettlement farms Lievenberg in Erongo, Drimiopsis and Du Plessis in Omaheke and said action should be taken to remedy the
situation.

People were resettled at three farms – Lievenberg in 2005, Drimiopsis in 1991and Farm Du Plessis in 1997 and 2005.

The research found out that the resettled farmers have not received post-resettlement support to make them self-sufficient – the reason why they were resettled.

“The residents were resettled to become self-sufficient but the opposite is true,” the publication, which formed part of Namibia Institute for Democracy’s mentorship programme and was launched last week, said.

Although beneficiaries make just enough money to sustain themselves, they contribute nothing to the country’s economy.

Crop and livestock farming were the main activities on the three farms but the study found that the farms on which civil servants displaced San and displaced farm workers were resettled, performed poorly and required immediate intervention.

The findings, said the report, supported a Legal Assistance Centre’s Publication of 2002 which stated that: “Land reform involves more than just buying or expropriating land from one group in order to give more land to another group. It also involves a complex human process that requires careful social and economic planning.”

The report said, “It is clear that the resettlement beneficiaries need more than the land to become productive and self-sufficient. They also need systematic, comprehensive and long-term support.”

Most of the interviewees had no formal education but claimed to have some farming experience and skills as farming had always been part of their lives, but would appreciate Government support in the form of financial assistance, agriculture extension services and post-resettlement aid.

On Farm Lievenberg, which has six farming units, only one farmer had moved in with his family and was farming on a part-time basis, while on Farm Drimiopsis 120 families with 700 inhabitants live on the farm. Initially seven of the 120 were meant to be beneficiaries of the resettlement programme on the farm. Farm Du Plessis, which the study said needs urgent attention, has 25 households.

Although the residents of Du Plessis were put on the farm temporarily and were told they were on a waiting list for permanent relocation, nothing has happened in the last 10 years.

“The community has since elected a committee which represents it in negotiations with the Government and according to the interviewees, the committee is in contact with the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement every three months through their constituency council. However, despite these regular contacts, the process was simply dragging on,” it added.

Although the study said this was a snapshot of the reality of resettlement farms in the country as only three farms were visited and investigated, the results raise concerns regarding resettlement practice.

“Whatever the reasons that led to the resettlement history of these three farms, the results prompt one to consider that action should be taken to remedy the situation,” the study recommended.

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