Julia Kamarenga Okorukambe-Farmers on Farm Du Plessis in the Okorukambe constituency of the Omaheke region are up in arms against the heavy-handed treatment they claim to be getting from their respective leaders. Last Tuesday, the group marched to the constituency office wielding posters with messages such as, “we are given fines of N$1 000 if our cattle graze on the corridor”, where they handed over a petition. Nisha Steenkamp, a senior administration officer, received the petition. The farmers raised lack of grazing land, among many other issues. Reading the petition, Titus Ripanga Tjiuandu said: “The Namibian government through the Ministry of Land Reform brought about 45 families from elsewhere in Omaheke to occupy this small area measuring about 4 100 hectares of land.” The farmers said they have eroded the small piece of land allocated to them, as both their number and livestock population is growing – hence the need for more land. Besides lack of land when their cattle graze in open areas such as corridors and along the roads, where there is grass, the Namibian Police Force fines them. Station Commander Amupolo confirmed the fines, adding that they are only implementing the law as law enforcement officers ought to do. “Regulation 348 of the Road Traffic and Traffic Act 22 of 1999 clearly states the procedures to be taken,” said Amupolo. The station commander added that information meetings are conducted with the community to clarify matters but the farmers do not heed the police warning. The farmers also accused white commercial farmers of confiscating their cattle if found grazing along the corridors, charging the owners N$80 per head. This amount increases according to the number of days the livestock is kept at any commercial farm. Senior traditional councillor, KaÞiÞii Mbaeva, of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority, said: “It is very painful that this is happening in an independent Namibia today.” He added that for over 21 years that they were brought to the farm, they have been airing their concerns but to no avail. The farmers also accused officials at the Ministry of Land of only resettling their colleagues and relatives. They said they have been applying over the years but they have not been successful nor have they ever been given feedback on why they were not considered. *Julia Kamarenga is an information officer with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology based in Gobabis.
2018-02-20 10:14:27 7 months ago