Squatter farmers could trigger conflict

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Khorixas

The chief of the #Aodaman Traditional Authority, Petrus Ukongo, is concerned about illegal settlers in his jurisdiction as the situation might lead to conflict with locals.

The #Aodaman Traditional Authority’s jurisdiction is in Ward 7 of the former Damaraland, near to Khorixas.
“There is little grazing available for our own farmers while some areas have no water. The traditional authority is against illegal settlers. I don’t want conflicts over water and grazing as little are currently available,” Ukongo warned.
Ukongo is also concerned about diseases that the livestock of illegal settlers might bring to the area.

Ukongo said he is not against assisting farmers affected by drought, but they must ask permission from those who are residing in the area and also get a clearance certificate from veterinary officials that their livestock are disease free.

On Sunday the chief and some of his headmen stopped some farmers who were moving their livestock during the night between Morewag and Houmoed. The group did not have any documentation with them.
“It’s a big problem. The farmers who were moving livestock did not have any permission from the relevant authority. We (the #Aodaman Traditional Authority) have given them until yesterday to move back,” Ukongo said.

He further said that in the near future the police and veterinary officials would be approached to drive around farms to look out for these illegal farmers.

Communities in the area have been asked to report illegal settlers to the #Aodaman office, which is based at Khorixas, and were also urged to unite against illegal settlers. Ukongo however said that certain farmers in the area are being rewarded financially by illegal settlers when the farmers quietly accommodate them on their farms.

Ukongo is further concerned that some farmers affected by the drought simply ask for a place for their livestock to graze for a certain time, but then construct brick houses for themselves where their animals graze.
Stealing of livestock was also blamed on illegal settlers.

“If we (the #Aodaman Traditional Authority) allow a farmer to stay for a certain time to graze their livestock, don’t build a brick house since you will leave once the drought in your area has passed,” said Ukongo, adding that his authority is willing to accommodate those who farm in nearby areas but is totally against assisting those from other regions.

Farmers from outside who want to graze their livestock must first approach the farmers in the area, who after giving permission will notify the #Aodaman Traditional Authority and request approval. Only applicants with 10 to 20 head of cattle will be allowed to stay temporarily in the area.

The chief said some settlers are sometimes given permission to graze a fixed number of livestock on the land but the numbers double, even triple, after the permission is given.

Ukongo since last week has on the NBC Damara/Nama radio service called on those occupying land illegally in his area of jurisdiction to report to his office. He also urged people to report those illegally occupying land.
“Some illegal settlers have reported themselves to my office and I am waiting for others to do the same,” he said.

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