22 March 2013

Namibia: Chief Mpasi Embroiled in Land Dispute

CONTROVERSY has once again rocked the Ukwangali Traditional Authority after revelations of an alleged abuse of power by Chief Sitentu Mpasi over land deals that went sour.

Various residents of Ukwangali recently complained to President Hifikepunye Pohamba about alleged corruption and unfair treatment by Mpasi.

Simson Kahutji, a resident of Mise in Ukwangali, an area between Burgo Kwatako and Nandeu, claims Mpasi's office threatened to evict his family from a homestead in which they had lived for years.

Kahutji said they were recently told by officials of the traditional authority that they should vacate the land because it would be used for farming purposes. Kahutji and his family claim they were not consulted about plans to turn the land into a farm.

He urged the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate corruption in the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, claiming many people have lost their land and more are likely to lose theirs.

Joseph Kandjimi, the chairperson of the traditional authority, said the allegations were not true but refused to go into detail.

"It is false, that's all I can say," he said.

The director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noa, would neither confirm nor deny that his office had received complaints from Ukwangali residents about land disputes.

Another farmer who recently complained about the same traditional authority is Twamoneni Haihambo, a resident of Kahenge Constituency.

He said he entered into an agreement with Mpasi to develop a farming area measuring 4km by 10km for the chief's wife.

"As compensation, the royal Daniel Sitentu Mpasi family had offered me a piece of land measuring 4km by 5km for which ownership, according to the letter, shall eventually be legitimated in my favour once all paperwork has been completed," he said.

Haihambo said Mpasi directed them to start developing the farm and "reassured us that he and his wife shall honour the terms of our agreement".

He claims that he spent approximately N$300 000 on developing the area.

However the chief allegedly made a U-turn after the area had been developed.

Haihambo was allegedly called in by Mpasi and his wife on March 6, who instructed him to vacate the farm.

Haihambo has written various letters to government officials, including President Pohamba, Prime Minister Hage Geingob and the minister of regional and local government to complain about Mpasi's alleged conduct.

Mpasi made headlines last year when he admitted to having received a Land Cruiser from Ohangwena Governor Uusko Nghaamwa some years ago after he had given him two pieces of land on Kwangali communal land.

He also admitted having given portions of communal land to high-ranking government officials, which pitted him against his subjects who felt that he was only catering to the whims of the rich, at the expense of the poor.

The permanent secretary in the Lands and Resettlement Ministry, Ludwina Shapwa, on Wednesday said the ministry has little control over communal land that is in the jurisdiction of traditional authorities and communal land boards.

According to her, the communal land boards have the duty to hear residents' complaints and decide whether they warrant an investigation.

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