RUNDU - Kavango traditional leaders – during a recent engagement with the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Ancestral Land Claims and Restitution - said they lost huge tracts of land through demarcations of national parks by government.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has not widely consulted affected communities during such demarcation, the Commission, which was in Rundu last week, heard.
“The just ended second national land conference resolved to direct the President [Hage Geingob] to appoint a commission of inquiry into ancestral land claims and restitution and it is against this background that the President has appointed a 15-member commission of inquiry and our team has been assigned to deal with Zambezi, Kavango East, Kavango West and Otjozondjupa regionS,” said Commissioner Marius Kudumo.
The Hambukushu traditional community was referring to the Bwabwata National Park, while the Gciriku were referring to Khaudum National Park as demarcations that have taken away their lands.
The land they currently have is not enough for their subjects as their populations have grown since independence, they told the commission.
“Today’s government has turned Bwabwata into a park without the support of the Hambukushu people. No traditional leader has allowed that Bwabwata be made a park, some people are claiming that part of the park is theirs, they must show us proof on how that is and who lived there before, who are their ancestors who lived there?” asked Fumu Erwin Mbambo of the Hambukushu.
“People must also not compare areas above the cordon fence with areas below because below the line, there was a colonial war that chased people out of their land and they ran to save their lives but this side, all traditional authority jurisdictions are intact. Land is controlled by the traditional authority and when anyone or any organisation wants to go do something in another tribal jurisdiction, they must follow the traditional authority procedures. So on the side of Bwabwata, we are asking government to send the environment ministry to come so we talk,” Fumu Mbambo said. On the other hand, the traditional leader of Mbunza Traditional Authority, Frans Kaundu, supported Fumu Mbambo that traditional procedures of acquiring land must be respected by those coming in their jurisdiction.
The Mbunza traditional authority complained that there are Namibians who came to settle near its traditional boundary without following procedures of engaging native headmen and later the chief for permission to settle.
“There are people who just settle there and when approached by the traditional authority, they shout ‘One Namibia, One Nation’ and that they can settle anywhere in Namibia.”
The Mbunza Traditional Authority along with other traditional authorities want government to look into the idea of giving the traditional authority more power when it comes to land.
The Ukwangali Traditional Authority asked the commission to elaborate on what “ancestral land claims” mean.
The Shambyu Traditional Authority highlighted amongst others, the issue of traditional boundaries, noting that traditional authorities in these areas are fighting or have disputes over boundaries but government, which has all maps with clearer boundaries, often sits idle without intervening.