New Era (Windhoek)

22 March 2013

Namibia: Two Groups Fight Over Land

Some community members in the Otjimbingwe area are disturbed by the utterances made by the Chief of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Gottlieb Kahikopo, on recent land allocations in the area.

According to Belinda Harases, an Otjimbingwe community activist, such utterances have the potential to create tribal tensions and wrong impressions.

During the recent allocation of two farms to the Damara Tsoaxudaman Traditional Authority at Otjimbingwe, the Ovaherero community expressed concern about the way the allocation was handled.

"We are not 100 percent happy because only the Tsoaxudaman were recognised and not Otjimbingwe,.

"There are also people of other traditional authorities such as the Ovaherero and Zeraua in this area," Chief Kahikopo said last week after the allocation of the two farms.

According to Kahikopo, his traditional authority also applied for recognition in 1997 but was declined and only the Tsoaxudaman were given recognition.

Kahikopo expressed concern that the Ovaherero-speaking community in the area would be neglected or discriminated against during the allocation of the land.

He noted that the Tsoaxudaman chief Bethuel Haraseb's children were already illegally occupying the land, even before the land was distributed to the community.

Kahikopo however said that they do not want to fight about leadership but rather about their livelihood and thought the Ovaherero leadership should have been more involved in the allocation of the land.

Kahikopo said the Ovaherero people are not "inhabitants" of Otjimbingwe but are "indigenous" at the settlement and should be acknowledged accordingly.

Harases, who was reacting on Kahikopo's statement, said it is not true that only Ovaherero-speaking people have animals in the Otjimbingwe area.

"All of us have animals and if they there are people who do not have animals, government's idea is to also uplift those. And claiming that the chief's family has already occupied the farm is untrue," Harases said.

According to Harases, who is a daughter-in-law of the Tsoaxudaman chief, she and her husband had leased a certain portion from the previous owner before the

government bought the farm.

"But we moved out the moment government bought the farm and the only people who are currently illegally occupying the farm are some Ovaherero-speaking people who moved in after the farm was bought by government," she claimed.

Over 100 livestock of different people are allegedly already illegally on the farm.

Harases said the impression created should be rectified and government is free to investigate the claims made by Kahikopo.

As part of government's latest intervention to allocate more land to Namibians, two commercial farms, Uitdraai and Kamandibmund, were bought and added to the Otjimbingwe communal area, increasing the area to over 101 000 hectares.

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement Theo Diergaardt handed over the two farms in the presence of the Tsoaxudaman Chief Bethuel Haraseb, and Erongo Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua.

The Erongo governor at the ocassion called for fair distribution of the land, while saying his office will with interest keep an eye on the allocation process.

The Tsoaxudaman Traditional Authority plans to look at people owning not more than 100 small stock and 20 cattle for allocation, while allocating 1000 hectares per person, in order not to overburden the land.

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