Confusion over farmland in Omatjete

29 May 2013 05:30
By Carike Freygang
OMATJETE, 29 MAY (NAMPA) ? There is great confusion about the usage of the farmland which was recently acquired by the Government for the expansion of the Omatjete communal area in the Erongo Region.
There are two different views about the matter: some people are of the opinion that the land should be used to expand the communal area, while others want the farms to serve as resettlement land.
The three farms in the Omatjete communal area have a combined size of 13 917. 107 hectares, and were handed over to the Zeraeua Traditional Authority by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement on 02 May this year.
According to a directive issued by Lands and Resettlement Minister Alpheus !Naruseb at the time, the three farms were to serve the purpose of expanding the boundaries of the Omatjete communal area to sustainably accommodate the livelihood needs of the traditional communities residing there.
But, the people of Omatjete are divided into two groups, stemming from division within the Zaraeua traditional leadership of that area.
One group is led by Chief Manasse Zeraeua, while the other follows Chief Raphael Hijangungo Kapia. Both are leaders of the same Zeraeua Traditional Authority.
It appears that the two chiefs representing the Zeraeua Traditional Authority are pulling in opposite directions as regards plans for the usage of the Government-acquired farming land.
Amidst that royal push-and-pull, some farmers of Omatjete who are hard-hit by the drought, allegedly decided to invade the farms and settled there without following the proper procedures.
The proper procedures, according to the directive from the minister, are that farmers should first seek the approval of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority before settling on such farms.
Chief Kapia has come out in support of the alleged farm invaders, requesting that they remain on the land until the next rainy season.
His rival, Chief Manasse Zeraua, however, stated that the land should rather be utilised for the purpose of resettlement, as opposed to giving communal farmers carte blanche to settle on the land.
?When we received the farms from the government, I made an appeal to the community that people can immediately start with the resettlement process by submitting applications to the traditional authority,? Zeraeua said.
He said some of these farmers have been settling on the land illegally, even before the Government handed over the land to the traditional authority.
There was a request for the alleged land invaders to vacate the farms, but when this request was ignored, Chief Zeraeua approached the courts with an application to have them removed.
The application was, however, dismissed by the court in Omaruru last Friday.
Chief Kapia?s followers still feel that due consideration should be given to the alleged illegal settlers as they have been pushed onto the land by the prevailing drought conditions in the country.
Kapia?s advisor, Uahindua Ndjiharine told Nampa that vacating the farmlands before the rainy season would not be to the benefit of the farmers concerned.
?The people should be allowed to stay there until the next rainy season, as they have nowhere to go with their livestock,? he noted.
One of the alleged illegal settlers, Ephraim Uahanaua, told this agency that he was not aware that moving onto the land constituted some illegal action.
?There was an official announcement on the radio, saying the farms were added to expand the Omatjete area. The Traditional Authority does not want to assist us, despite the fact that we put in a request to be assisted at least until the next rainy season,? Uahanaua said.
The handing-over of the three farms to the Traditional Authority was reportedly in line with the 1991 Land Conference?s resolutions, and the President?s directive to expand the boundaries of communal areas countrywide.