WINDHOEK – For over two years the Mayeyi Traditional Authority has stuck to its guns saying it will not allocate any land to Mayeyi uprooted from the area now called Mudumo National Park.
Thirty years ago almost 100 Mayeyi were uprooted by colonialists from villages that were located in the area now called Mudumo National Park to make way for the game-rich park located in the Zambezi.
At the time of their relocation from Mudumo to Lyanshulu residents were told the relocation was for the sake of their safety from marauding wild beasts.
Government has since 2013 revealed its difficulties in convincing the aggrieved members of the Mayeyi tribe to move away from the area near the park, saying the land in question falls under the jurisdiction of the Mayeyi Traditional Authority and hence it cannot permanently resettle them there.
Although government has shown its willingness to assist the villagers with basic needs such as the provision of water, the adviser to the Mayeyi Traditional Authority, Chrispin Makando, two days ago said the affected Mayeyi will not be resettled near the park where they are now residing.
“The traditional authority has decided that it will not give the group land to resettle near the park. They must just go back to their village where they have been staying over the years,” he said in reference to Lyanshulu where the group was relocated by the colonial authorities after being uprooted from the park.
The group has been residing near the park for close to two years and insist they will not move until their ancestral land is returned.
On the other hand, Linyanti and Judea Lyamboloma constituencies’ councillor Cletus Sipapela, said: “People don’t want to go back to their village, they have considered remaining where they are but not go inside the park. They have requested facilities such as water, which has been difficult because a borehole has to be drilled at a permanent spot.”
However, Sipapela said they are busy engaging the Rural Water Supply Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to provide a tank at the site.
Close to 100 villagers were removed from their ancestral land in the 80s by the apartheid administration to make way for the Mudumo reserve that at the time was proclaimed a national park.
The villagers were relocated to Lyanshulu in Linyanti Constituency where they settled for over 30 years until last year when they demanded that government relocate them back to their ancestral land in Mudumo. They are invoking their ancestral rights over the park.
Their claim was ignited when officials from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement visited Liyanshulu to register people for land rights in the communal areas in 2013.
The councillor said when the ministry of lands came to register people at Liyanshulu, the group that previously lived there told those who were relocated from the park that they cannot be registered there because their ancestral land is in the park.
Without any authorisation, the affected community decided to leave Liyanshulu village and started squatting on a piece of land near the park, which teems with dangerous wildlife such as elephant, hyena and lion.
Sipapela said government cannot directly intervene since it’s a traditional authority issue.
Villagers are residing at an unsafe place as the area is infested with dangerous wild animals.
He also said the schoolchildren are at risk because they commute about 2.5 kilometres to and from school at Liynashulu through the game-rich forests.