By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
Communal farmers in the Omaheke region stand squarely behind a joint decision of the Omaheke traditional leaders, councillors and farmers’ association not to sell their animals at permits as mainly white buyers would want them to.
Not only are the farmers right behind the decision, they are determined to endure whatever hardship results from this decision taken at Gobabis last Thursday. The meeting decided to suspend the sale of livestock at least until today when a follow-up meeting takes place in Gobabis.
However, most of the communal farmers’ associations in the region held meetings over the weekend and during the first half of this week to give the farming communities feedback on the Gobabis meeting.
The Aminuis Constituency communal farming community met under the auspices of the Aminuis Farmers Association (AFA) and the constituency councillor, Ervin Uanguta last Friday. AFA’s Chairperson, Munjana Kakujaha, says farmers endorsed the decision of the Gobabis meeting without any dissenting voice.
They described the decision by the buyers as a slap in the face of communal farmers. He says the decision stands until today when a committee mandated to investigate alternatives gives feedback in Gobabis.
Although the decision to suspend livestock sale may bring hardship, the selling of animals being the only source of hard cash for the Aminuis communal communities, the farmers are prepared to suffer the hardship to signal to the auctioneers that they are no longer prepared to succumb to their monopoly and the one-sided suppression of animal prices by the auctioneers.
“Farmers have agreed to stand firm by the decision of Gobabis meeting to see how far the (white commercial farmers) can go on oppressing us,” says Undjee Hengari, a communal farmer in the Aminuis Constituency. Hengari’s view seems to be the general view of most farmers in the Aminuis Constituency cognizant of the consequences of such a decision.
Kaujongo Tjiroze, a communal farmer in Aminuis and one of the black buyers, feels that it is time that communal farmers endure some sacrifices to rectify the situation where the auctioneers always call the shots. He said this is a situation that only the communal farmers can change if they are prepared to make sacrifices. Previously communal farmers have not been able to sell due to quarantines and they endured this.
He adds that communal farmers have more to lose in the long run if they allow the unfair trade practices of buyers to continue. He points out that the buyers are the ones contracted to supply cattle to meat producers and thus are the ones who would have to answer to their contractors for breaching their contracts to supply cattle.
Tjiroze also doubted the truthfulness of the assertion that communal buyers owe the auctioneers money, pointing out that the auctioneers only give them a grace period of two weeks in which to pay. He says personally he owes the auctioneering houses nothing.
Otjinene Constituency Councillor, Nguvitjita Toromba, says this constituency farmers equally endorsed the Gobabis decision on Saturday and pledged to abide by it.
Farmers in the Epukiro Constituency met yesterday under the Eastern Epukiro Farmers Association (EEFA) and traditional leaders. EEFA spokesperson and Executive Member of the Omaheke Regional Farmers Union (ORFU), Katjinduu Tjahuha, says the meeting yesterday went “very well”.
Although some farmers were in the beginning nervous about the Gobabis decision, as the meeting settled there was a convergence of ideas and spirits.
Epukiro communal farmers would not want to be isolated from the Gobabis decision which was a common decision of the Omaheke region, hailing it as the one and only decision the communal farmers could take if they can stand any chance of ever breaking the buyers’ stranglehold over them.
Although the decision may negatively affect school children as many homesteads may suffer including suffering from hunger, farmers seem to say now or never. Hence, there shall be no movement of animals from this area until today when the follow-up Gobabis meeting directs otherwise.
Farmers in the Otjombinde Constituency in endorsing the Gobabis resolved at a meeting on Wednesday, likened the buyers’ decision to the return of Apartheid through the back door. Chairperson of the Otjombinde Farmers Association, in short Otjofa, says the farmers are of the opinion that with the land still to return to its rightful owners, the decision by the buyers constitute robbery, thus adding insult to the injury of landlessness.
They think the matter must be taken to the highest political level in the country. Communal farmers’ communities in the Omaheke region last week decided to suspend the movement of any livestock from and into the region’s communal areas in view of the unilateral decision by auctioneers, Agra and Karoo not to buy livestock anymore in the communal areas in this region through auctions.
However, this goes against the communal farmers’ own position to no longer sell their animals at permits. They have been complaining that buyers unilaterally determine prices at permits.
Agra is reportedly only suspending the buying of animals from communal farmers at auctions for six weeks. Communal farmers maintain that since there is more than one buyer at an auction, buyers compete for animals and this pushes up prices.
On the contrary a singular buyer buys at a permit in any particular place in a communal area. Because of lack of competition he/she gives low prices.