The communities of N≠a Jaqna Conservancy and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Community Forest in Otjozondjupa Region have extended an invitation to the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, to visit them so that they personally express their gratitude for his strong response to the abuse and plundering of resources in the two conservancies.
“We are delighted by the response of Shifeta to our call for help in dealing with years of abuse of our land and resource rights,” said a statement issued by Sarah Zungu, the vice-chairperson of the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy, and Xoan//a /Ai!ae the chairperson of Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Community Forest.
Shifeta recently publicly stated that he would not tolerate the abuse of San communities in conservancies by invaders who want to cheat them out of their land and natural resources. He also spoke out against the illegal invasion of conservancy land by farmers looking for better grazing, without the consent of conservancies’ San communities. There have been reports that farmers have gone as far as to erect illegal fences within the conservancies.
/Ai!ae and Zungu are particularly pleased that Shifeta has expressed his strong disappointment with the fact that the communities are being threatened by invading farmers when harvesting or using their natural resources, for which they have approved quotas and permits from the ministry.
They say that for many years many of the local authorities and ministries have failed to address these illegal activities, although well known and well documented. “This is exceedingly worrying as it is their responsibility to protect our rights,” said the communities, adding: “Shifeta has given our communities hope and we invite the minister to come and see us.”
“We have been, and are constantly, faced with illegal grazers, settlers and fencers disrespecting the laws that we abide by. This disregard for the law leads to overgrazing and restricts the access of the rightful traditional communities, like ours, to our land and resources,” the two leaders said in a statement issued this week.
The communities said Shifeta would be able to see the areas affected and where they are struggling to exist because of others abusing and disrespecting the laws.
“We hope the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the police will collaborate with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in redressing these long-standing issues,” the communities said in the statement.
They reiterated that land is one of their most precious resources and gives them life, and without it the communities are becoming even more marginalised and unable to develop or map a prosperous future for themselves.
N≠a Jaqna Conservancy and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Community Forest are two of the largest conservancies in the country working to sustainably and responsibly use the resources available under communal lands and forest legislation.