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Schlettwein defends Kavango land allocation delays

2023-07-12  John Muyamba

Schlettwein defends Kavango land allocation delays

RUNDU - Agriculture, Water and Land Reform minister Calle Schlettwein has denounced accusations levelled against him by the Kavango West and East farmers unions that he is reluctant to issue leasehold certificates to Small Scale Commercial Farming Units adjacent to Gazetted SSCFU in the two Kavango regions.

Earlier in April, in a joint press statement, the unions representing the interests of farmers accused Schlettwein of denying leaseholds to farmers whom the traditional authorities have given consent letters and have already started farming on these areas.

According to the unions, traditional authorities in Kavango East and Kavango West regions have added one or two lines of farming units each measuring approximately 2 000ha to 2 500ha adjacent to Gazetted SSCFU in the respective traditional authority (TA) areas. 

“The traditional authorities have given consent letters to farmers who these farms were allocated to. To date, the minister has not issued leasehold certificates to the applicants despite no disputes to the majority of these

“We want to know why is the minister denying leaseholds to farmers to whom the TAs have given consent letters,’’ said the Kavango East Regional Farmers Union (KERFU) vice chairperson 
Thomas Nyambe who read the statement on behalf of the two farmers unions. 

“To start with, I denounce that I am delaying allocation of land to farmers in the Kavango West and Kavango East regions,’’ the land reforms minister told New Era.

Schlettwein said his ministry has witnessed an uncontrolled allocation of communal land. 

“Traditional authorities and communal land boards are allocating (huge) different land parcels for different land uses without taking into account the provisions or the Communal Land Reform Act and preservation of the commonage,” he said.

Another concern he raised was that communal land is been allocated without taking into account other land uses, more importantly the approved Intergraded Regional Land Use plans.  “We have
witnessed communal land rights’ applications made too close and across water pipes, electricity power lines, servitudes and institutions such as schools, hospitals, churches. Other land is being allocated in flood plain areas, road reserves, in wildlife corridors, near water canals, hazardous areas and within active Cuvelai drainage system,” he stressed. 

To address the above
challenges, the minster indicated that his ministry, together with traditional authorities, communal land boards and other relevant stakeholders have developed a set of new rules (guidelines) in order to provide guidance to the traditional authorities and communal land boards on the best practices applicable to communal land allocation. 

“Also, to serve as a tool to rely on and refer to when deciding on communal land right applications as well as to serve as a framework for acceptable standards on size limitation to different forms of tenure. It is our wish to finalise these rules soonest, gazette them for implementation,” he noted.

“I must state here that I have placed a moratorium on the allocation of communal land for agricultural purposes outside designated areas. 

The moratorium does not only affect the application from the Kavango West and Kavango East regions, but all regions, apart from the Khomas region which does not have communal land,’’ he said.

Schlettwein further warned that, it should be noted that contraventions of the provision of the Communal Land Reform Act, 2002 resulting into illegal occupation of communal land will have consequences.  

“He said farmers who have settled outside the small-scale commercial farming units (SSCFU) are outside the designated area but said, “it will be of importance to designate that land to be incorporated into our SSCFU. I will consult the traditional authorities and the concerned communal land board to cause for the designation,” he said. 

2023-07-12  John Muyamba

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