National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) parliamentarian Josef Kauandenge last week raised concern about the lack of clarity from the government regarding the ownership of disputed Erf 1755 in Okahandja.
“Honourable Speaker, I give notice that on Thursday 17 Sept 2020 I will ask the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni who is the real owner of Erf 1755 in Okahandja,” Kauandenge said in parliament on Thursday.
The question, he said, derived from the premise that every year during the Red Flag Day in August, for the past three to four years, a ‘war’ always erupts between two traditional authorities that claim ownership of that land.
“All the transactions regarding this erf are in your ministry as the Okahandja municipality resorts under your office. However, when will the issue of the ownership of this erf be finalised,” he questioned.
“Documentary proof does exist that the erf now belongs to the OTA, yet yourself, so we are informed, gave authorisation to the other group to make use of the erf during last month’s commemoration, which did not take place because the other group, the OTA, decided that it is their erf and no one will use it without their consent.”
Kauandenge said that by Thursday this week he would want to hear from Uutoni as to why he gave authorisation to the Maharero Royal House to use the erf, without the consent of the OTA which, he said, were the rightful owners of the erf.
“The issue regarding this erf and the commotion that erupts every year between the two parties are well known to yourself and your predecessors, including to the police in Okahandja. What is your ministry’s plan to address this issue once and for all, so that next year the same scenario does not play itself out in Okahandja?”
“Don’t you think that the conflict between two parties that take place every year in Okahandja during August is counterproductive towards peace and stability?” he further questioned.
Kauandenge furthermore wants to know from Uutoni who has the title deed to the erf and why is the one having the title deed not respected, as well as his rights to the said property.
Since 2015, the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) under Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro and the Maharero Royal House, under Chief Tjinaani Maharero, has been at each other’s throats over who the owner of the erf is.
A commotion erupted last month between members of the two traditional authorities after the Mahareros were given permission by the Okahandja municipality to host a low-key Otjiserandu commemoration at the disputed erf.
This led to Rukoro sending a cautionary message to President Hage Geingob and government over the property.
“This message is directed straight to the head of state. You have the audacity to bring people from Mexico to buy 60 000 to 70 000 hectares of land, but you can’t allow us to purchase one hectare of land,” Rukoro said to Geingob in his vernacular in a widely circulated WhatsApp audio recorded in August.
While the OTA holds the deed of sale of the erf, the Mahareros claim the property was sold to them (OTA) by the municipality illegally, an argument supported by then minister of urban and rural development Peya Mushelenga last year.