WINDHOEK- The Ministry of Land Reform senior officials are visiting the communal areas across the country to implement laws prohibiting illegal fencing in communal areas, which is prevalent in Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.
The visits follow President Hage Geingob instruction last year after the second land conference that all illegal fences should be identified and notice should be given to those committing the illegal act to remove their fences within a reasonable timeline.
At the time, Geingob said he is gravely disturbed by incidents of illegal fencing that are so prevalent across communal areas where these barriers restrict the movement of livestock.
Section 18 of the Communal Land Reform Act (Act 5 of 2002), enacted in 2003, takes a strong position against the erection of fences on communal lands.
Land Reform ministry spokesperson Chrispin Matongela yesterday confirmed this development saying that the senior officials within the ministry has embarked on an outreach initiative on regional awareness meetings on the control and enforcement of the removal of illegal fences in communal areas.
He told New Era that the exercise started in the Zambezi, Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions this week and it “went very well.
The remaining regions to be visited, he said includes Erongo and Omaheke that will be covered this coming Friday and next week Monday.
Matongela urged the law enforcement agencies to assist the traditional authorities on the removal of illegal fences and administer fines for would be offenders.
New Era reported last year that Ohangwena leads the list of regions with the highest number of illegal fencing in communal areas.
According to statistics presented by Maria Kasita at the 2nd National Land Conference last year on behalf of traditional authorities and communal land boards, Ohangwena tops the list with 107 cases of illegal fencing reported between 2012-2015.
It is followed by Otjozondjupa with 58 cases recorded during the same period, Omaheke (48), Omusati (42), Kavango East and West (36), and Oshikoto (16).
The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) has also called for the removal of illegal fences in communal areas, saying they increase inequality between Namibians - those that can afford fencing materials and those fenced out.
LAC’s coordinator on land, environment and development, Willem Odendaal said this during his presentation at the second national land conference last year.
He said at the time that illegal fencing in communal areas increase grazing pressure and degrades the remaining commonage.
Odendaal said illegal fencing in communal areas does not only affect grazing for the poor but it also prohibits poor people from accessing firewood, thatching grass and even veld food that the poorest members of traditional communities depends on for their livelihood.
He said if ignored, illegal fencing is effectively rewarded.
In the past, wealthy politicians have been accused of fencing off massive land, at times measuring over 3000 hectares, in communal areas.
Also, a number of regions in their position papers to the conference requested that illegal fencing be criminalised so that culprits are dealt with criminally instead of merely having their fences removed.
2019-09-26 07:33:00 18 days ago