• September 23rd, 2019

Omaheke region endorses ancestral land rights claims



WINDHOEK - The Omaheke region says ancestral land right claims must be considered and a detailed study on this subject conducted to pave way for land restitution.

This is one of 24 recommendations/resolutions from the region following land consultations prior to the Second National Land Conference held in the Cattle Country capital, Gobabis, on July 26 and 27. “The first National Land Conference and the National Resettlement Policy (2001) omitted to recognise people displaced from their ancestral land by colonial occupation as one of the disadvantaged groups. Given this situation, land distribution has not been fair. People who lost land during colonial times are equated to those who did not lose their ancestral land when it comes to land distribution,” the region motivates in its report that has been send to the Ministry of Land Reform and together with reports from other regions is to be consolidated into one for the land conference. 

The San people have been recognised as disadvantaged, however, they are resettled in overcrowded group resettlement farms without individual allotments and thus making it difficult for them to farm productively and to access financial facilities to apply for production loans. Ancestral land seems to resonate in several recommendations/resolutions from the region of Omaheke with others reading as follows: 

People who lost their ancestral land should be recognised as disadvantaged groups in addition to the San. 
Preferential treatment should be accorded to those who lost land due to colonial dispossession. 

Noting the fact that the 1991 Land Conference concluded not to allow ancestral land claim as communities’ ancestral land overlapped and further that this issue was far too complicated, However, the Omaheke workshop felt that there is no opportune time than now to discuss this very sensitive issue in an attempt to enable the restitution of ancestral land to the displaced communities. “It was loudly pronounced that the indigenous people were removed from their ancestral land and deprived the right practice their cultures while their traditional governance structures were cruelly collapsed by the colonialist,” the report reads in motivating the recommendation/resolution on ancestral land. It adds that most heritage sites of the indigenous people are now on private farmlands and inaccessible to them. “All such sites should therefore be expropriated by the government and handed over to the respective Traditional Authorities under whose jurisdiction such sites falls,” it is proposed. Further the region is recommending that research is done to identify and properly document ancestral land. It suggests that a committee be set up which will perform the function of establishing and authenticating all ancestral land claims.  “Further, preferential treatment should be given to those who lost land when allocating land for resettlement,” is the regions position on ancestral land rights claims. 

Other recommendations/resolutions on various issues pertaining to land include:

A national referendum be conducted to pave way for amendments to the Namibian Constitution, Articles 131, 100 and 16(2) that will enable government to expropriate land without compensation.
Excess land that has been unjustly acquired be expropriated without compensation by the state for the purposes of land reform. 

Identify underutilised commercial agricultural land for expropriation.
Allow the traditional communities to fence of their villages and grazing lands for better livestock management.
Government should expropriate land owned by foreign absentee landlords.
Land acquired for redistribution be allocated on a 70/30 basis in favour of the inhabitants in whose region such land is acquired.

The government must conduct a study to determine maximum farmland sizes of commercial land needed for productive farming in each region and thereafter. compel farm owners to sell excess land to the state for redistribution;
The workshop supports/upholds the 1991 National Land Conference’s resolution on land tax for implementation.
Accord communal tenure rights to farms acquired by the previous Tswana Administration for the Tswana traditional communities.

Generational farm workers should be given priority with regards to resettlement.
The government should offer tailored support (e.g. inputs, training, finance, etc.) to Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) and Resettlement farmers to enable them farm productively.
Expand communal land areas and intensify the production of communal land by conferring freehold titles.
Commercial farms adjacent to communal areas should be acquired for the expansion of communal areas.
Standard (minimum) resettlement farm unit sizes and communal land parcels sizes (e.g. 1500ha) should be considered for allocation.

Government should prioritise the development of road infrastructure in far remote areas in order to enable communal farmers easy access to markets.

Resettlement beneficiaries in group resettlement farms should be issued allotment letters and also be considered for resettlement elsewhere in order to reduce overcrowding.
Resettled farmers to be given full rights to utilise wildlife resources and other natural resources found on their resettlement farms for income generation purposes and to aid their livelihood. 

The TAs should not allocate settlement or grazing right in areas designed for conservation
Traditional Authorities’ books should be subjected to annual audits in order to improve accountability and transparency.
Payment for land for business purposes should be done to the government and the TAs. However, a certain percentage of such funds should be shared with Traditional Authorities.
The government should subsidise poor communities including women to erect communal fences to control livestock and grazing. 

Resettlement beneficiaries should be subjected to a probation period and issued a 10 year provisional lease for the duration of the probation after which they should be offered the opportunity to buy their farming units at subsidised rates.
Traditional Authorities should be represented at all levels of decision making with regards to resettlement land allocation.
The veterinary cordon fence be shifted gradually further to the north while disease control mechanism should be put in place in order to ensure effective control of animal diseases. The fence should only be completely removed if sufficient disease mitigation measures are put in place to ensure that animal diseases would not spread southwards following the removal thereof.  

The government must ensure the full enforcement of the CLRA (2002) on the protection of common grazing areas as well as the removal of all illegal fences in communal areas. Villages that have fenced off to protect their commonages and for livestock management should be allowed to retain their fences.
Traditional Authorities be empowered to enhance their capacities to fulfil their role with regards to the removal of unauthorised fences.

More specific and strict mechanism be put in place to ensure adherence to the provisions of the Law (dual grazing).
Traditional Authorities be supported in order to enhance their capacities to fulfil their roles with regards to communal land administration such as the enforcement of the law on prohibition of dual grazing. Allocate land to a ratio of 80 percent for regional inhabitants and 20 percent to those from other regions (resettlement). Resettlement farmers should be subjected to a 10 year probation period at the end of which unproductive beneficiaries should be evicted and productive ones be offered an option to buy their farming units.

Both spouses should be required to sign the lease agreement in order to curb unwarranted eviction of the surviving spouses from the land.


Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
2018-09-18 10:10:09 1 years ago

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