Tension Flares in Kavango

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

Tension between local people from the Ukwangali tribal area and the evicted Oshiwambo-speaking farmers has reached new heights, with locals threatening to poison wells, which could result in the loss of thousands of animals.

New Era has learned that since the evicted farmers have defied a court eviction order and started moving back into the Ukwangali area, local people are “contemplating drastic action against the intruders to teach them a lesson”.

The Secretary of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Abisai Namwira, says locals are frustrated with the ongoing problem. He fears that the situation could turn into a serious conflict.

Namwira says the Oshiwambo-speaking farmers who are now looking for grazing in the Ukwangali tribal area created the problem because they fenced off their grazing area and sold it to wealthy farmers.

“They misused their land and now want to occupy our land, but we will not allow them because we are nomads and the area is not even big enough for our cattle.”

Namwira says the traditional authority will not take the law into its own hands and will wait on the courts and police to resolve the issue, but warned that individuals are talking about taking serious action against the intruders such as poisoning their water points.

The situation has also prompted the Government to send two high-profile delegations to the Kavango region to assess the situation on the ground.
The Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Kazenambo headed the one delegation, while the second delegation consisted of members of the Namibian Police.

Speaking to New Era yesterday, Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga said he was informed that the evicted farmers are moving back into the Ukwangali tribal area illegally but is awaiting a comprehensive report from the delegation to the area.

Ndeitunga warned that if the evicted farmers are moving back into the Kavango grazing area, they are in contempt of court and are exposing themselves to prosecution.

The head of the police said although everybody understands that they are really in need of grazing, they must respect the laws of the country and address their problems within the confines of the law.

He advised the illegal farmers to approach the traditional authority in the area and seek permission to graze and to enter the area with permission.
Ndeitunga also called on locals not to take the law into their own hands, warning that poisoning waterholes is a serious criminal offence and that locals should not even think about it.

Meanwhile, the Kahenge District Secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) in the Kavango region has called on President Hifikepunye Pohamba to resolve this matter once and for all, as the defender of the Namibian Constitution and the rule of law.

The SPYL says the way in which the cattle herders invaded the Ukwangali communal area and the way the issue is being handled could constitute provocation and indeed disrespect for the Ukwangali Traditional Authority.

“It is being argued here in the region, that if it were the people in Kavango imposing themselves on the Ovambo Communal area of tribal jurisdiction, it is believed that the response of the Government would have been more forceful.”

Some of the Oshiwambo farmers allegedly have refused to budge despite receiving eviction orders from the Kavango Land Board last year.
Failure to comply with the eviction orders could earn an offender a one-year jail term or a fine of N$4?

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