Basson and Aroab farmers make peace

25 Nov 2016 14:00pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 25 NOV (NAMPA) – //Kharas Governor Lucia Basson and the Aroab town lands farmers have resolved their standoff, both parties said on Friday.
Basson and the farmers’ spokesman Gertjie Witbooi told Nampa on enquiry that a closed meeting the parties held in Aroab late last week ended amicably.
The farmers previously slammed Basson, who is the chairperson of the region’s resettlement committee, for her alleged failure in assisting them to be resettled.
Last month, the farmers invaded a recently-advertised farm in the Aroab district, demanding to be resettled there.
Basson afterwards dismissed their request to be resettled as a group and also disqualified the individual “land grabbers” for consideration to be resettled on the farm.
In the conciliatory meeting last week however, Basson promised the farmers that she would do everything in her power to help the farmers get a piece of land.
“We had a fruitful discussion and I understand their situation. There are landless pensioners in that group and their children have nowhere to go. There is no communal land in Aroab and Koës so these farmers also do not benefit from Government aid,” Basson told Nampa.
She plans to write a letter to the Minister of Land Reform to recommend the farmers’ resettlement as a group.
“Once a new farm is bought by Government in that area, it can be gazetted as a communal farm where all these farmers and their families can live,” Basson said.
She said she does not dwell on the farmers’ past public protests and accusations against her.
“They did what they did to get attention. Now we have to cooperate to find a solution to their problem.”
In the meantime, the Governor has requested the Aroab Village Council to extend the farming area of the town lands and to allow the farmers to put up temporary housing structures.
“Currently, they are on 1 700 hectares, but they will soon be accommodated on 5 000 ha. I also asked the council to put the farmers’ water debt on hold and to grant them access to waterpoints.”
Witbooi said the meeting with the Governor was very positive and the farmers were optimistic and hopeful that a solution would be found.
The spokesman was temporarily suspended by the farmers as secretary of the farmers’ union before last week’s meeting, but has now returned to his post.
“We decided that we would not allow politics to interfere in our common goal for resettlement. We had some differences in our group, but we decided to stick to the matter at hand and work with the governor.”