OMUTHIYA -The headman of Omuthiya, Paavo Sheepo is discontented over recent acts of illegal fencing being undertaken by some farmers at Okashana in Oshikoto Region and has thus strongly warned those practising the act to stop or face the music.
The area in question falls under the communal land and it is a free-range grazing area for small-scale farmers. “We have taken note of the recent developments relating to some farmers resorting to fencing huge tracts of land in an area which is meant for animal grazing, this is not allowed at all. If they do not stop their actions, we will be left with no option but to cut down their fences,” warned Sheepo.
Furthermore, he said most of the people that are farming do not have land rights; hence, they cannot fence off land, as they are not the rightful owners. “These people have to comply and if not, we will remove them. This is just a temporary grazing area, if they want to turn it into a farm, they should go somewhere else and purchase, not here,” he further explained.
The area stretches from Okashana about 10 kilometres South of Omuthiya up to Oshivelo.
Sheepo’s sentiments come after a number of farmers complained and pleaded for his intervention. According to one farmer, Linus Haufiku whose cattle post was allegedly enclosed by another farmer, some have resorted to fencing off huge tracts of land regardless of others to the extent of secluding some cattle post, leaving cattle with no access to grass.
Section 18 of the Communal Land Reform Act (Act 5 of 2002) (CLRA) (enacted in 2003) takes a strong position against the erection of fences on communal lands.
The Act states that no new fences may be erected without proper authorisation obtained in line with the Act.
“As you can see, I cut down the fence (pointing at the poles and wire) and I will continue doing so for as long as he continues. This person fenced off my cattle post thus leaving my animals with no access to grazing and this is becoming a challenge to us farmers as our animals now graze in corridors,” lamented Haufiku, when New Era visited his cattle post.
Haufiku has been at the post farming with goats and cattle since 1994.
“Just because they have money to do so, they think they can just do as they wish. This is not good at all, how will our animals survive when they are secluded? We have been here for quite long, do they think we do not want to fence also?” questioned another farmer Fernando Andreas who equally came in 1994.
According to the headman, most of the farmers are temporarily accommodated, that’s why they do not pay any fee to be allocated a piece of land.
“You only bring your cattle for grazing after you have asked authorisation and followed due process. That right does not permit you to fence off or develop the piece of land where you are allocated. The only person who could give that authority is the chief himself, and that process was stopped about 20 years ago,” stressed Sheepo.
He also rubbished and dismissed as untrue, claims by some farmers who say the headmen gave them permit to fence off large tracts of land.
“That is just a smokescreen, no headmen has that power to permit someone to develop or fence of that particular area, all authorisation come from the chief,” he concluded, saying as an area headmen, he had not received any directive to permit someone in recent years.