Farm Dickbusch – After their land resettlement applications failed for about two decades, a group of fed-up farmers on Thursday moved onto farm Dickbusch – owned by government – with their livestock.
The group, calling themselves the Aroab Small Farmers Union, say they have for the past 20 years exhausted all possible legal ways to get resettled, as well as engaged various governors and councillors on their urgent need for land, but all in vain.
The group say they cannot continue to farm at the 1 700-hectare camp at Aroab, which belongs to the Aroab Village Council, and thus want to be resettled at Dickbusch.
The farm is located about 45 kilometres west of Aroab and measures about 8 400 hectares.
The farmers last Thursday also handed a petition to the Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency Councillor, Elias Kharuxab, calling on the regional leadership to find a solution by tomorrow, when they will move the remainder of their animals onto the farm if no solution is found by then.
“We will stay here until government finds an amicable solution for us; we just want water and grass for our animals,” said Andrew Dejuy, one of the group members.
Receiving the petition, Kharuxab said he is aware of the land problem that the farmers face, adding that it is the direct result of colonialism, “when land in the area was largely fenced off by white farmers and thus locals were left without land”.
Many locals worked for whites on those farms, the councillor told the angry gathering.
Although he agreed that farmers are in dire need of land, he did not agree with their farm invasion tactics and urged the crowd to be patient and go through the right channels to get land.
He shared his solidarity with farmers but was quick to point out that he does not have the power to resettle them.
“I’m standing very far from where the decisions are made. In principle, I can say yes because they are my people, but in reality my hands are tied,” he said.
The councillor said that people in the constituency have no communal land, which should qualify them as a priority group to get a resettlement farm.
But they have so far failed to be resettled, citing the scoring system as one of the obstacles, while the lack of a representative on the regional resettlement committee is another setback.
Land reform deputy director in //Karas Region Albertus Engelbrecht refused to comment on the incident, saying he is not permitted to speak to the press.
“I’m not supposed to comment on anything without the permission of the accounting officer, I’m sorry,” he said when contacted for comment.
Although New Era understands that the ministry was working on getting an eviction order, the farmers yesterday indicated that they have not been served with any papers and they stayed put.