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Opinion - Zambezi region a basket of land disputes

2021-10-21  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Zambezi region a basket of land disputes
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We have learnt to know that Zambezi region has 90 000 land disputes for now. Everywhere, people are complaining about disputes in the region. This is a big problem in an independent country like Namibia.

 People are harassing one another with weapons. What is a resolution after all? The answer is very simple. The boundaries between the traditional authorities is the only answer to this problem. The definition of the traditional community in the Communal Land Reform Act 2002 (No 5 of 2002) states that a community, recognised as such under the Traditional Authorities Act No 25 of 2000. It means members of such communities share a common ancestry, language, culture, customs and traditions; they recognise a common communal area. 

We have four traditional authorities recognised under the Traditional Authorities Act No 5 of 2000 in the Zambezi region, namely: the Mashi/Bafwe Traditional Community, Masubia Traditional Community and Linyanti Traditional Community. They all have their respective areas of jurisdiction. 

Today, you will find some overlaps between these areas of jurisdictions: e.g. one traditional authority is exercising its powers over another area of jurisdiction by appointing senior traditional councillors and traditional councillors outside areas of respective traditional authorities’ jurisdiction. 

This is contrary to the letter the minister of regional development distributed to traditional authorities, dated 4 August 2009, with the subject: ‘Appointment of senior traditional councillors and traditional councillors outside areas of respective traditional authorities’ jurisdiction’.

This letter states that: “I have become a regular recipient of heavy complaints and disappointments from many quarters of traditional authorities and communities, calling for my intervention to halt the appointment of senior traditional councillors and traditional councillors in areas of jurisdiction, other than that of the appointing authorities, namely chiefs of the traditional authorities. 

“Consequently, I undertake to request that any chief of head of traditional authorities, who may have appointed a senior traditional councillor or traditional councillor to preside over an area outside of his/her jurisdiction, must withdraw such an appointment, as it does not conform to the spirit letter of the traditional practices – and it is in contravention of the Traditional Authority Act. Such withdrawal must be affected upon receipt of this letter.”

Section 10 subsection (1) empowers chiefs or heads of traditional authorities recognised to appoint from amongst the members of their respective communities senior traditional councillors to assist such chief in the performance of their duties and to exercise and perform other powers, duties or functions as may be delegated. 

Therefore, senior traditional councillors and traditional councillors can only be recognised if all provision of the act has been adhered to. Any person surporting to be a senior traditional councillor or traditional councillor, and attempts to carry out traditional functions as outlined in the Act shall be guilty of an offence punishable and can be convicted and/or imprisoned. 

All chiefs, senior traditional councillors and traditional councillors must follow, adhere and abide by the Traditional Authority Act No 25 of 2000 – and must desist from carrying out functions in areas of jurisdiction other than the areas outside of their jurisdiction. 

All members of the community must also adhere to the practices of traditional authorities in which they reside. The contravention and violation of the act will lead to the revoking of the provision of the act. 

Comrades, let us respect the directives from our government of the Republic of Namibia for peace, harmony and development. We will never develop if we show negative attitudes towards our government. 

Let us be united and work together as a nation. Let us support our Zambezi Communal Land Board in order to solve our land disputes peacefully. I have confidence in them, because they are skilled board members. Everyone should know his/her ancestral land because no one was born without land. Read Deuteronomy 19:14. Let us not talk much about Botswana boundaries first, but let us clean our region and be united. We first clean our dish inside then outside. 

An injury to Linyanti, Bukalo, Sangwali and Mashi is an injury to all. Let us talk about our boundaries and be united – after all, we join hands together to discuss about Botswana. Let us get our four honourable chiefs united and support them in all difficulties. Our boundaries should not separate us but we should eat together as one region. Look how the two Kavango regions are united despite having their boundaries according to their tribes. One Namibia; One Nation! We should not undermine and underestimate the directives from the government. Let us respect our Swapo led government because we are all at liberty. 

Pedagogically, the Zambezi Communal Land Board should regularly visit the Traditional Communities to educate them about land administration. Section 17 of the Land Reform Act of 2002 No 5 states that communal land belongs to the State (people). The communal land cannot be bought or sold by anyone like commercial farmland. It cannot be owned by individuals or private individuals. The chief or traditional authority is a primary allocator; according to section 22 of the Act, the land right reverts to the chief or traditional authority, who determines to whom the right must be allocated. Before allocating the land right, the chief or traditional authority must consult the members of the family or families concerned, in line with customary law. By following this procedure, we will resolve some of the land disputes in this region.

 Today, you will find two or three district headmen in one district without boundaries. Now, who will among them exercise powers over the land in terms of allocation? The district community will be in factions according to families. Even the traditional authority will find it difficult to allocate land rights in that district because every headman will fight for his powers over the same district community. 

I would like to give an advice to our traditional authorities as parents of the Zambezi region, to appoint one headman in each district in order to allocate land rights without harm or chaos, and furthermore to avoid land disputes and conflicts among subjects. Thank you comrades. May the Almighty God bless this region.

2021-10-21  Staff Reporter

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