EENHANA – Traditional authorities and leaders have a duty to stop the corrupt practice of illegal fencing off of communal land and allocation of communal lands for self-gratification.
“It has, however, been noted with great concern that some traditional authorities and leaders have been encouraging illegal fencing off of communal land and allocation of communal lands, and the proceeds of such illegal actions benefit them. This is a corrupt practice and must be nipped in the bud immediately,” said President Hage Geingob during the official opening of the 23rd annual meeting of the council of the traditional leaders at Eenhana yesterday.
Geingob said this in his statement delivered on his behalf by urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni.
According to Geingob, land remains one of the basic needs of the people.
He stated the government remains committed and has developed legislative frameworks to guide the proper and orderly administration and distribution of land in the country. “In respect of communal land, the government has put systems in place to make sure that communal land is administered and managed in the interests, especially of the people who are living in those areas,” he said.
He added the government does this by including chiefs or traditional authority in the communal land administration structures, such as communal land boards.
He said traditional leaders and authorities have an integral role to play in the promotion and creation of conditions for the empowerment and protection of the rights and safety of women and children in society.
“As leaders and our elders, we look towards our traditional leaders to guide us as teachers of moral and ethical conduct. It is, however, disturbing that we continue to witness instances of fragmentation, power struggles and leadership succession disputes in a number of our traditional communities,” he said. The President has called on the traditional leaders to work together and fight against gender-based violence with the government and law enforcement agencies in rooting out all forms of violence, discrimination and crime in general.
“Therefore, we call on you, as elders, to continue guiding and inspiring communities. With your strength, with your support and with your patriotism, I am confident that Namibia and its people will overcome all challenges and obstacles, and ascend to the heights of continued peace, national harmony and shared prosperity,” he stressed.
He reiterated that the country cannot sustain the perpetual proliferation of traditional communities and chieftainships, which are often premised on self-serving personal interests, preferences and ambitions, they have been peacefully resorted under one traditional authority and leader, sharing the same customs, values, language and culture without any problem.
Geingob has also called on government ministries, such as the line ministry and the office of the attorney general, to speed up the processing and conclusion of cases presented to them to avoid such matters escalating into crises and disillusionment on the part of the parties who presented them.
Also speaking at the occasion, acting chairperson of Council of Traditional Leaders Gaob Immanuel /Gâseb revealed there are eleven traditional authorities with chieftainship succession disputes, while some are waiting for investigations to be conducted.
/Gâseb said it is worrisome to continue witnessing instances of factionalism and ongoing leadership succession disputes between communities and their leaders.
He called upon communities to respect their customary norms and practices and to move away from unwanted disputes.
On this issue, Geingob said, “on numerous occasions, government is dragged into these avoidable disputes, which not only cause divisions among communities but are also time and resource consuming. The time, energy and resources that are devoted to such disputes could best be spent on matters of priority, such as the war against poverty and unemployment.”
The annual meeting of the council’s traditional leaders will end on Friday.