Residents of the southern Maltahohe village and adjacent communal areas have threatened to invade neighbouring resettlement farms as people from other regions are resettled there at the expense of those that are wallowing in poverty in the area.
NANGOF hosted a Friedrich Erbert Stiftung funded meeting with the residents of Maltahohe last week where inhabitants of the southern village expressed despise towards resettlement farms being allocated to Namibians from other regions.
The residents at the meeting then threatened to invade those resettlement farms while describing the resettlement programme as ‘unfairly implemented and corrupt to the core’.
The land issue has become more emotive of late, especially with regard to the perception that the local inhabitants of Hardap are apparently not benefitting from the resettlement process that is undertaken on the many farms that government has bought there over the years.
Summing up the general feeling of fellow inhabitants at the meeting communal farmer, Paul Gariseb told a packed to rafters hall that they found it grossly unfair that people from other regions are given preferences over them by being allocated resettlement farms in the two southern regions, including //Karas, while the local landless inhabitants are apparently ignored.
He claimed that only a handful of “powerful and politically connected inhabitants have benefited such as permanent secretaries, directors, governors through underhand dealings.”
“We are tired of being taken for a ride and have decided that we will invade these farms forcefully. Our ancestors fought and died for this land and we too are prepared to die,” said a fired up Gariseb.
He added that they are not happy that majority of farms bought in the area have been allocated to people from other regions at the expense of the inhabitants.
Gariseb explained that the problem with resettlement is not so much that people from other regions are resettled, but that they are resettled at the expense of local landless people who are direct descendants of genocide and colonial land dispossession. “We were willing to compromise on the 1991 resolution related to ancestral land claims, and gave government the benefit of the doubt believing that it would act in good faith. We are however seeing that government is betraying that trust”, an emotional Gariseb stated.
He said that the inhabitants have eventually settled along corridors because they have no other alternative.
“We are now forced to live along corridors with our livestock while strangers have taken over our ancestral land,” he added.
“What does the word resettlement actually mean?” asked one landless resident who claims that he applied numerous times for resettlement. He added that Government is resettling people who were never “unsettled to begin with”.
The consultations are led by land activists and former student rights stalwarts during the country’s liberation struggle, Uhuru Dempers and Sima Luipert. The land ownership row came at the time when Government announced that the 2nd Land Conference will be held in November 2016.
Luipert explained that the reasons given by government on the slow pace of land reform are misleading at best.
“Government claims that it is not offered enough land of good quality and that white farmers do not want to sell their farms. This is misleading because research conducted by independent academics shows that white land owners almost sold twice as much land through the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme than to government since independence”, she stated.
Luipert explained that government is resettling too many beneficiaries on small parcels of environmentally sensitive land, making it prone to overgrazing and further desertification.
Her claims were elaborated on by a resident and participant at the meeting, Thomas Skrywer, who alleged that government is continuing the creation of homelands, albeit with people of different ethnic groups.
“The fact remains that the land on which beneficiaries are resettled does not have the carrying capacity for so many farmers, neither does it have adequate water infrastructure. This will make the land completely unproductive in the long run. It looks like government is creating pools of “bantustyle-like reserves”, he claimed.
The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) will not react threats by residents of Maltahohe made during the consultative meeting NANGOF saying such assertions pre-empts the November Land Conference.
Deputy Minister of MURD Derek Claasen told The Villager, “Namibia is a democratic country. People can settle where ever they want”, before suggesting that further questions be directed to the Office of the Permanent Secretary.
Maltahohe is one of the many villages and settlements in southern Namibia where a host of burning land issues are discussed as part of the NANGOF Regional Land Reform consultations.
Like the residents of Hoachanas, Maltahohe residents too resolved to send a delegation to the 2nd Land Conference and hand a petition with their demands to Government.