Traditional authority disputes hamper land rights registrations

23 Mar 2015 16:20pm
WINDHOEK, 23 MAR (NAMPA) – Issues pertaining to unrecognised traditional authorities, land disputes among individuals and traditional authorities, as well as illegal fencing of communal land slows down the registration of communal land rights.
Former Minister of Lands and Resettlement Alpheus !Naruseb, raised the concern at the inauguration of both the Communal Lands Boards and members of the Lands Tribunal last week Wednesday.
There are about 295 000 land rights holders in communal areas of which 50 per cent are mapped and verified, while only 24 per cent are registered, according to !Naruseb.
“The reason for the slow progress on land registration is because this programme is faced with many challenges hence we have indefinitely extended the deadline for registering existing customary land rights. The immediate challenge to you as newly appointed board members is to ensure that you device mechanisms to speed up the completion of registration of existing customary land rights country-wide,” he stated.
Other challenges for the slow process of registering communal land rights also include undefined areas of jurisdiction for traditional authorities and recognised traditional authorities without areas of jurisdiction.
A total of 190 communal land board members represent the 14 Regions of the country. They serve as such in terms of the Communal Land Reform Act, 2002 and will serve a three year term as from March 2015 to February 2018.
In a message to the new Lands Tribunal at the same event, !Naruseb raised the concern that farm prices have escalated over the years, and as such it has become a debate and controversy.
“As you may be aware that farm prices have escalated and as such, it has become a bone of contention during the land sale process where the parties (buyer and seller) do usually not reach agreements.
'It is at this point that the services of the lands tribunal become indispensable to ensure a transparent and fair price for the land that government is acquiring for reform purposes,” he cautioned.
!Naruseb said it is envisaged that the involvement of the Land Tribunal in matters relevant to the land acquisition process will increasingly become necessary.
The Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, 1995 provide for the establishment of a five-member tribunal.
The new members are: Chairperson Elise Mutaleni Angula; alternate to the chairperson Laurens Kavendjii; Economical or Financial matters - Clara Gasebewe Bohitile; Agricultural matters Ryno Van Der Merwe and board member Orben Simataa Sibeya.
Members will serve a three year term as from March 2015 to February 2018.