Land grabbing underway at Katima Mulilo

27 Aug 2016 15:10pm
KATIMA MULILO, 27 AUG (NAMPA) - Hundreds of people, who say they are fed up of waiting on the Katima Mulilo Town Council, on Saturday cleared land on the outskirts of the town where they plan to erect shacks.
These landless locals have apparently been heading out to unserviced land in the vicinity of the town at night and demarcating large pieces of land for themselves over the past two weeks.
However, since Thursday, many have been doing so in broad daylight and in full view of some council members, who failed to intervene as those demarcating land threatened anyone who try to stop them, with violence.
When Nampa visited the outskirts of the Chotto and Cowboy settlements which border Liselo communal land on Saturday, hundreds of people were busy cutting down trees to clear the land.
They told this news agency they are annoyed with the council for failing to allocate land to them despite having registered for the Lwa Yaha land and housing programme.
The programme was established after thousands of residents grabbed land on municipal serviced land at the Macaravan east and west, Chotto and Dairy settlements last year.
The local authority entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lwa Yaha committee and promised to avail 1 000 plots to landless residents between July and September 2015.
Those Nampa spoke to on Saturday, however, alleged that this has not been the case. They claimed that those who are unemployed could not afford to buy the availed plots measuring 300 square metres each.
“The council is busy servicing plots to sell. They have not looked into our plight even after we complained that we never managed to buy the plots they sold under the Lwa Yaha programme. We have been left with no choice but to grab virgin land and erect shacks,” 32-year-old Nansunga Libuna said.
Another land grabber, only identified as ‘Mr Morrison’, said they need to build homes for their children, adding that they can no longer live with friends in already overcrowded settlements.
He said those who are grabbing land have all agreed to not move until the town council finds a suitable place for them to live.
“We are serious about not moving. In fact, we the landless have agreed that the newly occupied area will be known as the “Lwa Nyanda” compound. Lwa Nyanda means we are suffering, which in this case is true; we are suffering and in need of land,” Mr Morrison said.
Efforts to get comment from Katima Mulilo Mayor Georgina Mwiya-Simataa proved futile as her mobile phone went unanswered, while her deputy’s was switched off.
This agency understands that a meeting called by the land grabbers will take place on Sunday at the Cowboy sports field, where they will discuss their current exercise and future plans.