LPM warns of escalation in farm invasions

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) has cautioned government that the illegal occupation of farms may escalate if the State does not address the unresolved land question as a matter of urgency.

This comes after the Namibian police on Thursday forcefully removed a farmer from Farm Nukois in the Karasburg district of //Kharas Region, after he had reportedly occupied the farm illegally on March 10.

Sydney Skakana had allegedly moved 58 head of cattle and seven goats to the farm – said to be about 8,000 hectares in size – out of frustration after several failed applications to be resettled.

The LPM said this may be the beginning of more illegal occupations of farmland if government fails to address the issue on an urgent basis.

During a press conference at Keetmanshoop, LPM spokesman Paul Thomas indicated that Skakana’s actions should not be seen as illegal, but as a sign of desperation and frustration among landless Namibians. He warned that if the land issue is not addressed soon, more unlawful occupations of land might follow.

“We, therefore, caution that unlawful farmland occupations may escalate, lest the State hears and responds meaningfully to the demands of the landless people of Namibia,” he said.

The LPM gave Skakana its unwavering support, stating that it is the movement’s view that Skakana had exhausted all other avenues, with no result and he was thus left with no option but to occupy a government farm to secure his farming enterprise and his family’s livelihood.

“We, therefore, declare our unequivocal and unwavering support for Skakana and other landless people who in pursuit of sustainable agricultural enterprise occupy State land,” Thomas announced.

The movement further called on the Ministry of Land Reform to address cases such as this, warning that – if ignored – such situations can cause chaos, noting that although the movement recognises the action of Skakana as unlawful, his actions were justifiable.

The LPM further reminded government of their demands for the resettlement programme to be suspended and reviewed, so that it favours those historically dispossessed of their land. Skakana said the farm he occupied has been vacant for about a year now and thus he decided to move in, as the communal grazing areas had been severely depleted.

Although he was told to vacate the farm, he said his animals are still on the farm and he has been given until April 30 to remove them, but he is adamant that he is not going anywhere as he is on his ancestral land.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have anywhere to go, so I will not be moving out of the farm. Must I go back to the communal area where my cattle are shot for going near the road and where there is no grass?” he asked.

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