AUTHORITIES GET WAKE UP CALL AS RESIDENTS DESCEND ON IDLE LAND
NAMIBIA: LAND/NBC/22/1/19 SABANews 1
HARARE – The authorities in NAMIBIA seem to be nursing a potentially volatile situation by delaying the long awaited equitable distribution of land to suffering citizens.
Like all the surrounding sister nations in the SADC Region, the former GERMAN colony lost millions of its people during colonisation and throughout the liberation war – all in the name of self-determination.
This process, by which a country clarifies its own statehood and forms its own government, cannot end until the people access the primary means of production – which in this case is land.
Thus, the major grievance that forced thousands of young men and women to leave their homes to join the liberation struggle was land; but 29 years after independence, the issue remains unresolved.
Thousands of NAMIBIANS have been without proper homes for generations and have been patient all along, but some are becoming more and more agitated under the situation.
More than 100 residents of OTJIWARONGO, a city of 28-THOUSAND inhabitants in the OTJOZONDJUPA Region, have recently invaded idle land at the new OMBILI informal settlement of the municipality.
NBC News says the people descended on the area with rakes, shovels, axes and hoes; started clearing and demarcating the land, before the police and municipal authorities and politicians stopped them.
The officials included OTJIWARONGO Mayor BENNES HAIMBONDI, Management Committee Chairperson HILDA JESAJA, and ruling SWAPO Party OTJOZONDJUPA Regional Co-ordinator SUSAN HIKOPUA.
The broadcaster says the residents have told the news agency, NAMPA, they have taken matters into their own hands because the town council rejects their applications for land, charges them exorbitant prices, and councillors give no priority to land delivery.
NBC News says Mayor HAIMBONDI has asked the group to write down their names and allow the municipality to verify them in its database, to see if they had not yet been given land already, as well as whether or not they are listed as new applicants for land.
It says he called for patience, emphasising the town council will service about FOUR-THOUSAND plots in the invaded area; although the total number of the needy is not clear yet.
The aggrieved residents have agreed to write down their names, but they have also called on the municipality to speed up the exercise of servicing land at the OMBILI informal settlement.
Records show land reform, which has been a vital political and economic topic in NAMIBIA, comprises TWO different strategies: resettlement, and transfer of commercially viable agricultural land.
They say resettlement aims to improve the lives of displaced or dispossessed previously disadvantaged NAMIBIANS.
The farms the government obtains for resettlement are usually in a number of sections, with scores of families resettling on what had previously been ONE farm.
Commercial farms transfer is not directly under State control, since aspiring farmers with a previously disadvantaged background obtain the properties privately or through affirmative action loans – both under the notorious Willing-Buyer, Willing Seller principle.
NAMIBIA has about FOUR-THOUSAND commercial farms, with about ONE-THOUSAND of them now in the hands of previously disadvantaged nationals since independence in 1990./Sabanews/cam