WINDHOEK – Illegal settlement continues unchecked and as much the unlawful erection of new fences without the relevant government authorities taking responsibility for addressing these transgressions, maintains the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia in a media release.
It says in recent years both the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy and Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Community Forest had to resort to the courts to illegal settlement, fencing and grazing . The job of the authorities is to protect the rights of the San and uphold the law, however they have not fulfilled their obligations. The !Kung Traditional Authority and the Otjozondjupa Communal Land Board recently claimed that all the 22 evicted illegal settlers in N≠a Jaqna had been removed, as per the High Court order of August 2016. They claimed this without verifying it and the reality is that many of them remain. “Additionally in the years between bringing the case to court and today, the Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD) under the Ministry of Land Reform states in its latest planning document for the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy, that there were no illegal farmers or fences left in the area, while at the same time including a map and findings in direct contradiction to that claim,” reads the media release.
The Foundation adds that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the lands ministry and the then Ministry of Regional and Local Government, now the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development prohibited the !Kung Traditional Authority from issuing any more permits for the movement of animals to and from the Tsumkwe East area but farmers flaunted this prohibition then and continue to do so today without these ministries enforcing their own regulations. It continues that recently the court ruled in favour of the Ju/’hoansi Traditional Authority Chief, and the Directorate of Forestry was instructed to implement the Forestry Act. “However they have failed to do so for many years until the civil case was brought to the courts and even now nothing has happened. Similarly the Inspector General has been instructed to expedite a criminal case against illegal grazers that has been pending with the prosecutors for many years because of delays caused by lost files, delayed investigations and inaction.”
In this regard the Foundation questions why legally registered and recognised San communities have to resort to the courts. “Why have the authorities failed to properly investigate the situation, seemingly preferring to wait until the San communities finally take issues to court?” the Foundation questions in the release.
Writing and engaging the ministries concerned about the situation in their areas and ongoing illegal activities have even drawn a blank with their letters rarely replied to, the Foundation says. “These communities, and their globally recognised Namibian conservancies, have had to resort to making press statements and taking legal action in the hope that the ministries and authorities in question act,” adds the release, with the Foundation regretting having to resort to these means and at the same time questioning if this “is how Namibia protects the rights of its most vulnerable communities”.