12 December 2012

Namibia: Himba, Zemba Protest Widens

HIMBA and Zemba communities have again taken to the streets to amplify their demand for more control over their traditional lands.

The groups first demonstrated at Okanguati, 120 kilometres from Opuwo, in late November, and on December 5 took a petition straight to the government offices at Opuwo, capital of the Kunene Region, to repeat their dismay at a planned hydro-electric dam in the Baynes Mountains.

The groups want government to desist from implementing the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002, which they say would result in land grabbing by other groups to the detriment of those who have historically occupied Kaokoland.

They demand that the government remove “those foreign invaders” from the territory “that have illegally grabbed parts” of the land without their consent.

“The traditional borders of our territory were always clearly defined through mutual respect between us and the neighbouring tribes. Those borders were reaffirmed as well as documented by three (sic) colonial governments that ruled our country before Namibia became independent. On every map or schoolbook one can see our Kaokoland’s borders being acknowledged,” the petition reads.

The groups furthermore want their traditional governance structures to be respected and recognised by the government, and that their traditional leaders be reinstated without delay and recognised as traditional authorities of Kaokoland.

They also want the government to stop plans for the proposed Baynes Dam downstream of Epupa, and that mining companies be removed from the area, or that their communities be part of the entire process of giving out mining permits and have access to the benefits reaped from mining activities there.

The petition was thumb-signed by Chief Hikumuine Kapika of Okanguati, Chief Matheus Veenduavi Ruhozo of Oukongo, Chief Katjemba Ngumbi Tjambiru of the Etanga area, Chief Jonas Ngombe of Orotjitombo, Chief Kautaurua Mdundu of the Otjakati area, Chief Uetupa Ndjai of the Okorosave area and Chief Frans Tjauira of the Karivizu area.

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