Topnaar Traditional Authority determined to address land issue

28 Jan 2018 11:10am
WALVIS BAY, 28 JAN (NAMPA) - The Topnaar Traditional Authority south of Walvis Bay plans to prioritise discussions on land rights this year, among other issues they want to tackle.
Topnaar Chief Seth Kooitjie, who is also chairperson of the Nama Leaders Association, told Nampa on Friday that the Topnaar want to ensure that Government hears their need for access to land at the second national land conference.
Late last year, President Hage Geingob announced the postponement of the second conference on land after some civil society groups had complained about inadequate consultations.
It was shelved for 2018, with a date yet to be announced.
The Topnaars, with a population of about 300 people, live along the Kuiseb River in the villages of Utuseb and Rooibank which fall in the Dorob and Namib Naukluft national parks.
Kooitjie said this deprives them of the right to own communal land and owning houses.
They stay in corrugated iron shacks without flush toilets and electricity.
“Uncertainty is very high amongst our people right now, especially the youth, because we have no absolute rights to the only land we could have owned,” he said.
The chief said the authority has teamed up with the leadership of other Nama traditional authorities to address the land issue.
“What we want is to set the process in motion. We hope we can achieve the goal by 2030 because without the right to the land our ancestors first occupied, our future is nothing.”
Kooitjie said the land conference is very important for the Topnaar community as they expect to achieve good results there.
“Any minister who comes to us and speaks about development will not make any sense until we have land. Our priority is to improve the lives of the community who are living like the poorest of the poor.”
The Topnaars, however, have concession rights to the Kuiseb Delta where they harvest the !Nara melon for own consumption and sale.
Kooitjie said a warehouse where the !Nara seeds will be sold in bulk to local businesses is nearing completion at Rooibank.
There is also a campsite and guided tour services which generate some income.
Other issues the traditional authority plans to tackle this year include improved access to education and electricity, water and sanitation provision.