Close to 90 people resettled at farm Oerwood, 50 kilometres west of Tsumeb, have allegedly not been issued leasehold letters by the lands ministry since their resettlement in 2004, leading to an increase in illegal settlers occupying the land.
The non-availability of leasehold letters has also deprived the farmers of the opportunity to benefit from AgriBank’s funding scheme, and left loopholes for overcrowding the farm. Practising farmers are thus left with little land to graze their animals.
Hence, farmers are unhappy with the lands ministry, saying it has dragged its feet for twelve years to rectify the matter.
The situation has furthermore obstructed them from obtaining finance from other financial institutions to develop the land, as they do not possess any documents to indicate the land they occupy belong to them.
It is alleged lands ministry officials visit the farm every year to conduct registration. What remains a mystery is that the farmers are not given satisfactory explanations as to what transpires every year after they have been “registered”.
New Era understands the matter has been reported to the regional land office in Tsumeb on several occasions but the farmers without ownership letters were apparently informed the office is unable to handle their complaints.
“When they are told about the issue, they respond saying we are not ready,” said one affected farmer.
“We are always told our names have been taken to the head office for the leasehold papers to be prepared, but at the end nothing happens and they come back again to re-register us. The ministry should really explain what all this means? Because we are the ones affected we do not have access to finance to develop our land and start farming,” said Mathias Sipunga, one of the resettled farmers.
New Era understands that two groups were resettled at the farm.
The first group was allocated land by the Tintsabis Traditional Authority and the second one by the lands ministry.
This has also caused confusion to determine which farmers were rightly resettled.
Sources said the first group have leasehold letters which they received from the traditional authority, although the letters are disputed by the lands ministry which regard them as null and void and of no effect.
Some people in possession of a letter were able to benefit from the ministry of agriculture programme that provides seed and fertilisers to groups of resettled farmers.
“This issue comes a long way. In 2012 I even went as far as reporting the matter to the then minister of lands, Alfeus !Naruseb. Then the following year he came to the farm and assured us that everything will be put in order, but until now we are still waiting,” said another resettled farmer Edward Amadhila.
“The team in Tsumeb are saying they cannot do it. Now why can’t the office in Windhoek fix this because they are aware of our plight?” questioned Amadhila.
The deputy permanent secretary, Ester Lusepani, allegedly informed him that she had advised the Tsumeb office to advertise the farm with the names of those resettled so that if there are any objections to how they were resettled they would not be issued with ownership letters, while others would receive theirs.
Lusepani on Monday informed this reporter that she would look into the matter and give feedback but by yesterday she did not do as promised.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of lands in Tsumeb, Melanie Iputa, refused to comment on the issue, saying she was on maternity leave and the only person authorised to speak to the media was the land reform ministry’s spokesperson, Chrispin Matongela.
By the time of going to print Matongela had not responded to questions emailed to him.