Kavango regions advised to register for customary land rights

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Michael Liswaniso

Rundu-Marvin Sisamu, the deputy director for land in the Ministry of Land Reform, has advised Kavango East and Kavango West to reconsider their current position and register for customary land rights as enshrined in the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002.

He said at the current pace the world is moving it is good to have a formal document clearly stating under which jurisdiction and traditional authority the communal land falls, as well as to whom it rightfully belongs.

“By tradition people may know that, yes, this piece of land is mine or it belonged to my forefathers and thus I can settle there but it’s now good to have it formalized and registered. Some can even use these certificates as collateral when applying for bank loans in order for them to engage in other developmental projects,” he said.

Sisamu was speaking in Rundu at a two-day land reform regional consultation workshop earlier this week. The workshop was one of a series of similar workshops being conducted around the country in all 14 regions, aimed at reviewing the progress made in the implementation of resolutions taken at the first ever land conference in 1991.

The workshops are also aimed at looking at new emerging land related issues being experienced and sensitize as well as prepare inputs for the envisaged 2nd national land conference slated for September.

Currently only residents of the two Kavango regions have refused to register for their customary land rights with the Ministry of Land Reform on grounds it is against their customs and traditional way of life to register traditional land.

“Why should I register if there is no value to the land issue, what’s the value of registering communal land?” asked one resident who identified himself as Kudumo. He added that customary and communal land registration may prevent people of the two regions from moving and farming freely as they have been doing for the past years.

On his part Kavango East Governor Samuel Mbambo, who officially opened the conference and actively participated throughout the two-day event, acknowledged that there are problems currently in the two regions with regard to customary land registration.

He was however quick to point out that the position of the region and that of his counterpart in the west will be communicated in what he termed a “regional document” that has to be finalized before the planned 2nd national land conference commences.

“All the things may not be exhausted here at the meeting but we will still hand in a regional document to the committee to be presented at the national conference. Land is a political, social and economic issue. It’s also about promoting equity and poverty eradication, therefore, after years of trying to implement the resolutions of the 1991 conference, people need to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Though this is the case, reports from the Ministry of Land Reform indicate the ministry has managed to acquire over 3.1 million hectares of farmland involving 513 farms worth over N$1.7 billion via the willing seller, willing buyer system. This has culminated in 5,306 beneficiaries being successfully resettled since independence.

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