Locals majority on southern resettlement farms

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-The Ministry of Land Reform says over 70 percent of resettlement land in the //Karas and Hardap regions has been allocated to the inhabitants of the two regions, contrary to suggestions that people from other regions were chief beneficiaries.

Last weekend, outspoken Swapo backbencher and former deputy minister of land reform, Bernadus Swartbooi, started a series of meetings that he says are meant to restore tracts of ancestral land wrestled from local tribes by especially the imperial German authorities during colonialism.

The former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) spokesperson claims people who lost land to imperial forces are now overlooked at the expense of Namibians from outside the two regions.

Swartbooi, an admitted lawyer, vowed landless Namibians will do all in their power and use all legal means to get their ancestral land back, saying the right of any citizen to settle anywhere in the country does not give them the right to deprive and deny others of their land, nor does it allow anyone to occupy other people’s land.

This prompted the ministry of land reform to convene a press conference yesterday where its permanent secretary Peter Amutenya provided figures pertaining to land allocation in the //Karas and Hardap regions.

He said to date 510 farms measuring 3.1 million hectares have been acquired on the open market at a cost of N$1.7 billion.

He revealed out of the 169 farming units demarcated and allocated in //Karas, 121 such units have been allocated to residents or locals in the said region – representing 72 percent.

Hardap, Khomas and Omaheke regions each has five percent in terms of their residents being resettled in //Karas.

Also, out of 312 farming units that were demarcated and allocated to Hardap Region, 212 have been allocated to residents in that region. This represents 68 percent of local residents benefiting from the scheme.

//Karas and Khomas regions each has four percent in terms of their residents being resettled in Hardap, according to ministerial figures.

Amutenya said the ministry is puzzled because some of the leader claiming to be sidelined already got land under the national resettlement programme.

He said when those leaders where getting land for themselves they never made any formal representations to the ministry on behalf of those communities whom they claim to lead under the newly formed Landless People’s Movement.

“This trend shows that the majority of families that are originally from the //Karas and Hardap regions are the major beneficiaries of the farms that are being acquired in their respective regions of origin. Thus it’s not true that the resettlement process is marginalising certain communities in favour of others,” Amutenya noted.

When pressed to release the list of names of beneficiaries which he said he possessed, Amutenya said the ministry has always been transparent in resettling citizens. Details of allocation are provided through print media whenever the successful applicants are announced, he said.

“The names and initials of applicants, name of farms, regions of the applicants and the regions where the applicant is allocated have been provided for- be it in the Namibian Sun, New Era and Republikein,” said Amutenya.

“We shall continue to provide such information. With the manifestation of tribalism and regionalism now coming up- one has to consider the sensitivity of this matter. What will be the implications at this moment? So one has to look at all these things including the safety of these beneficiaries with those manifestation and signs of resistance, tribalism and regionalism.”

He revealed the ministry is in the process of compiling the number of farming units allocated in other regions that will be made public once completed, saying the ministry has nothing to hide.

He said government is aware of the acute demand for agricultural land and the great responsibility to bridge the gap in respect to access to land.

Swartbooi had accused his then minister, Utoni Nujoma, of leading a crusade of exclusion against //Karas and Hardap residents, but Amutenya yesterday hit back by saying the land minister does not allocate land independently and outside the institutional framework provided under the current legal framework.

Additionally, Amutenya said in that respect the special Cabinet committee on land and related matters, chaired by the deputy prime minister, has directed the review of the resettlement models and a review of the current point-scoring resettlement criteria.

In line with this policy decision, he noted that plans are already underway to review the current resettlement policy and resettlement criteria to reflect the current land needs of the diverse Namibian communities.

He vowed the ministry is committed to a transparent, fair and equitable land reform process as articulated in the ministry’s’ policy and legal framework.

He also confirmed that the ministry will continue to acquire farming units- provided funds are made available to resettle more Namibians.

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