23 January 2013

Namibia: Row Over Freebie Cattle, Claims of Bias

Photo: Michael J.Ssali/DailyMonitor
File photo of Ms Teopista Nalubega tending her goats at her home.

Windhoek — Some members of the Ombuijovakuru community in the Okakarara Constituency are up in arms over alleged unfair distribution of cattle from the Namibia-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP) to undesignated recipients.

Members of the community who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals maintain that they did not choose Uapingena Mbarimuuo to receive the three head cattle that were earmarked for a beneficiary of that community.

One resident claimed the community nominated one Boikie Tjipe and another female farmer only known as Tjirera to receive the free animals in November last year. However, he alleges that the area's traditional chief Jooste Vihanga apparently manipulated the process by taking two of the cattle for himself and giving one animal to Mbarimuuo.

"We didn't submit that name (Uapingena Mbarimuuo) for distribution (of the cattle)," he said. The farmer says he and other concerned individuals approached Okakarara Regional Councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu regarding the matter, but the councillor apparently turned a blind eye to their complaints.

When approached for comment, Vihanga refuted claims that he took the two cattle, saying, "It is totally untrue."

"Let that person come to me and show me where the cattle are," said the chief, adding that there was a committee in place that could attest to whom all the cattle from the special initiative were allocated.

However, Kandorozu confirmed that a complaint was lodged at his office regarding the matter, but maintains that his office received Uapingena's name with the understanding that he would be the recipient of the three cattle. "It's pure lies," said the councillor, adding that they followed up on the complaint but there is no foul play involved at all.

He said the complainants only submitted their preferred beneficiaries after the cattle were already distributed. Kandorozu says he personally advised the complainants that they could vote for their next candidate to receive the cattle in June 2014, since the livestock is rotated after a year and six months.

But another source also claims that the community never chose or nominated Uapingena as a beneficiary and does not know how his name surfaced at the councillor's office. He said that they submitted the names of their preferred beneficiaries before the deadline but were surprised that Uapingena's name emerged as the beneficiary of the cattle.

The NGSIP of 20 million Euros was conceptualized and designed by the Namibian government in 2006 for Namibian communities that suffered under German colonial rule a century ago. The primary beneficiaries are rural communities in the Erongo, Hardap, Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions and the projects include borehole rehabilitation, livestock distribution and gardening projects, among others.

Under livestock distribution, beneficiary households receive the animals to breed with for a year and a half, after which they are returned to a local project management committee for redistribution to other members of the community.

Close to N$160 million from the N$200 million earmarked for the NGSIP was reportedly either spent or allocated to various projects already in the first phase, while a further N$146.8 million will be available for the second phase during the course of this year. The assistance is intended to improve the social and economic conditions of the Herero, Nama, Damara and San communities.

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