1 August 2012

Namibia: Uncertainty for Tsumkwe Settlers

The spokesperson for a group of people who settled in the Tsumkwe area, and currently face eviction, says that their plight has worsened since they are now being denied access to water for their animals.

Juda Nganjone, told New Era that the farmers now take their animals wherever they can find water left by the rains, but do not know what they will do once all the water points have dried up.

About two months ago, Nganjone reported that around 600 settlers, who have been living in the area since 1987, were at risk of being evicted by the new San Chief Tsamkxao =Oma of the Ju/hoan Traditional Authority who took over in 2000.

=Oma apparently set up the Nyae-Nyae Conservancy some two kilometres from Tsumkwe and started demanding that the settlers leave the area because they have no right to live or graze their animals there. This, Nganjone said, was despite the fact that the late chief of the Hai-khom San and former Member of Parliament, Geelbooi Kashe, gave them permission to settle at Tsumkwe long before it was proclaimed a settlement in 2007.

The settlers who came from the former Ovamboland, Gam in the north-east, the Kavango Region and Okotjituuo in the Otjozondjupa Region have built their houses in the area and are rearing close to a thousand cattle, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys and do not know where to go if driven out of the area. He said some of the people were also born at Tsumkwe and know no other home.

Nganjone said the group sought help from the Tsumkwe Consituency Councillor, Rukoro Masheshe, in 2010, but the latter apparently also told them they must go. "He also told us we must leave. Our animals must not come to town (Tsumkwe)," said Nganjone. He explained that their animals graze between the Nyae-Nyae Conservancy and the town, but poles have been erected there now - perhaps to fence off the area. Masheshe told them to speak to their lawyers if they did not want to move, the settlers claim.

The settlers' spokesperson said they took up the matter with Otjozondjupa Governor Rapama Kamehozu, but he brushed them off saying 'he does not know them'. A letter from the Ju/hoan Traditional Authority dated April 16, 2012 and addressed to 22 people, including Nganjone, informed the settlers that action would be taken in accordance with the legislation on communal land against the unauthorized grazing of their animals, the building of structures or settlement on communal lands.

"I want to notify you that as Chief Tsamkxao =Oma, empowered by the Communal Land Reform Act 2002 and the Traditional Authorities Act 2000, I have not given authority for the grazing of livestock, building of any structures or to settling on the Nyae Nyae communal lands other than by Nyae Nyae community members," reads the letter.

Nganjone said he has sought an audience with the Minister or Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement but to no avail. Approached for comment, Governor Rapama Kamehozu said that 90 percent of the Tsumkwe area was a conservancy and that land in that area is scarce.

"I am in the process of going there (in two weeks) and will take up the issue to settle it for once," said the Otjozondjupa Governor. Tsumkwe Regional Councilor Moses =Oma and Chief =Oma could not be reached for comment.

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