Aroab farmers to get legal advice

30 Oct 2016 13:30pm
AROAB, 30 OCT (NAMPA) – The protesting Aroab small farmers are planning to challenge government’s requirements for resettlement in the country.
The 25 farmers currently operate from the Aroab town lands, but have been applying to be resettled on a resettlement farm.
About two weeks ago, the farmers unlawfully moved to resettlement farm Dickbusch with some of their animals, in anticipation of being resettled there.
//Kharas Governor Lucia Basson previously told the farmers that they are disadvantaged due to the fact that they do not belong to a traditional authority (TA).
TAs are represented on regional resettlement committees and make applicant recommendations to the Land Advisory Board.
Aroab farmers spokesman Gertjie Witbooi told Nampa on Friday the group will consult with Legal Assistance Centre advocate Peter Watson in Windhoek on Tuesday.
“We want to talk about the legality of the requirement for applicants to belong to a traditional authority,” he said.
The farmers also want the application process for Dickbusch to be halted, in favour of their request to be resettled there.
On that same day in Windhoek, the farmers will meet with an investigator at the Office of the Ombudsman on statements made by Basson that the farmers are originally South Africans.
The group also wrote a letter to the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the allocation of farms.
“Some members of the elite get land at the cost of unemployed, landless families. Albertus Engelbrecht, the deputy director of the Ministry of Land Reform’s office in Keetmanshoop just got a farm in Hardap Region. That is abuse of power in our eyes. It shows that the elites use the available channels for their own benefit. Engelbrecht has known about our problem for years, but gets a farm before us,” Witbooi said.
Engelbrecht stated in media reports recently that he followed all legal procedures in applying for a farm.
Witbooi said privileged people should be accommodated under the Black Economic Empowerment scheme, while resettlement should be for those who do not have land.
“The resettlement programme should perhaps look at the roots and ancestry of applicants and give them land in the areas where they grew up.”
The farmers want to establish whether recommendations for resettlement are made based on the positions applicants occupy or family ties to those in authority to make such decisions.
“We plan to have a peaceful demonstration and we will fight till the end to get land. We want a farm. We cannot continue to be a burden for government to continue staying on the Aroab Village Council town lands,” Witbooi said.