San people call for individual resettlement

03 Oct 2018 19:00pm
WINDHOEK, 03 OCT (NAMPA) – A representative of the San people of the Omaheke Region, Helena Afrikaner has called on Government to resettle them individually rather than as a collective, which is the case now.
In an interview with Nampa here Wednesday on the sidelines of the ongoing land conference, shortly after she stepped off the podium, Afrikaner questioned why other Namibians are resettled as individuals while marginalised people are forced to be resettled in groups.
She noted that resettling of groups does not favour the San people in the long run as they are forced to share a piece of land with a growing population.
Afrikaner noted that about 200 San people in Omaheke were resettled on Skoonheid farm in 1993, where Government built 72 houses, however, the population has grown and there is no provision for community members to put up structures such as corrugated iron houses.
“From the beginning it was a resettlement farm, but now the San people are left in the corridor as people from all over Namibia are fencing off some parts of the farm,” she said.
The community has been appealing to the Land Reform Ministry in the region to arrest the situation, but all their pleas have been in vain, she said.
Afrikaner further explained that they just learnt on Monday during the land conference that the farm falls under communal land and was not a resettlement farm.
“The community was surprised by the answer from the committee on land reform, meaning that there are no consultations done with the community before the decisions are made from the top, although the end result is affecting us on the ground,” she lamented.
Afrikaner stressed that the land issue is affecting every Namibian, “but history has it that the San people were the first people to settle in the country, yet they are the ones being left out when it comes to the allocation of land.”
She further complained that the resettlement requirements put in place by the government are to the detriment of San people.
Government resettlement criteria among others entail that the beneficiaries should be able to farm, have a background in agriculture or other related activities on which the resettlement is based. Beneficiaries should be prepared to hold land under leasehold and relinquish their agricultural land rights elsewhere. Furthermore, if the resettlement farm is based on animal husbandry, the applicant should relocate only a certain number of cattle so as not to exceed the carrying capacity of the parcel.
“Most of the criteria do not suit us, the only agriculture backgrounds our people have is working on the farms and we do not own cattle, therefore, it is really cutting us out,” Afrikaner stressed.