New resettlement criteria for the poor coming soon

11 Aug 2013 03:10
KEETMANSHOOP, 11 AUG (NAMPA) – The Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Theo Diergaardt on Friday announced that his ministry is developing a new resettlement criteria aimed at assisting poor people.
It will be called the Social Welfare Resettlement Criteria, and is aimed at making sure communal farmers with little or no income also benefit from the National Resettlement Policy which does not include them currently.
Speaking at a consultative meeting between his ministry, !Karas traditional chiefs, office of the regional governor, and the !Karas Regional Council in Keetmanshoop, Diergaardt said the development of the new criteria is at an advanced stage.
“We shall now put up a strategy that shall witness the finalisation and implementation of this social welfare resettlement criterion,” Diergaardt said.
He could, however, not give the specific date of implementation, saying the ministry is busy working on the criteria.
Explaining the new criteria, Director of Regional Programme Implementation in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Alfred Sikopo said Namibia is currently using the Economic Resettlement Criteria, which targets educated people with more livestock and farming experience.
He said the aim of the new model is to cater for uneducated people from overcrowded communal areas with little livestock, so that they too get access to land and farming opportunities.
According to him, the economic resettlement model only resettles people with 150 animals, and not those with less or more livestock.
The social welfare model, however, considers people with fewer animals to be allocated smaller farming units, compared to bigger units now given to resettled farmers.
On Thursday, the Chief of the Vaalgras Traditional Authority, Joel Stephanus challenged the point-scoring criteria of the Resettlement Policy, saying it does not benefit poor and uneducated people.
The chief said one of the objectives of the Resettlement Policy is to benefit poor farmers by giving them farming land and to ease the pressure of livestock on communal land.
He continued that the Resettlement Policy is failing to achieve such objectives, because communal land is still overstocked, while more land is still in the hands of minorities.
“We fought for our people to get land, but still they do not have it. It is still in the hands of minorities, that’s why they do not need Government help and they do not even attend these meetings.
Government must find a way to reduce the high land prices offered by commercial farmers, otherwise the Resettlement Policy fails its purpose,” Stephanus charged.
The chiefs from the four other traditional authorities in the !Karas Region, being the Blouwes, Bondelswarts,/Hai-/Khaua and !Aman also voiced the same concerns.
Chief Stephanus then requested Government to host a second Land Conference to discuss land matters, and revise resolutions passed during the 1991 Land Conference.
In conclusion, Diergaardt said he has noted all the suggestions, complaints and queries raised by traditional leaders for submission to his senior, Alpheus !Naruseb, for further consideration.
Diergaardt and his delegation on Friday completed a five-day visit to !Karas, where they discussed land matters with all five traditional authorities and their communities.