DORDABIS- Disgruntled, landless, hopeless, sad and hungry is how best to describe the over 1 200 residents of the sleepy village of Dordabis some 90 kilometres east of Windhoek.
Upon the arrival of New Era reporters at the village on Friday, one resident screamed from his corrugated-zinc shack window (in mistaking New Era reporters for government officials): “We are tired of you coming here, telling us lies after lies, just go away, we are not attending your meetings today, go away, we are tired of your unfruitful meetings.”
“Just go and tell [President Hage] Geingob to send us the NDF to kill us all, we are tired of your lies,” said the individual whom we later identified as 27-year-old Ultrich Rooi.
Dordabis is situated in Khomas Rural constituency.
The village according to locals has about 1 200 residents.
But residents said they are not allowed to put up any permanent structures and also can’t own small livestock due to the size of the land they live on.
“I was born here and my parents used to work on neighbouring farms. I don’t have a place to call home, I am 27, I got kids but I am forced to live with my parents who themselves live with their parents due to unavailability of land,” said Rooi.
“Where do I go, where do I go? I don’t have any other place to go, the only place I know is Dordabis,” he shouted.
Another resident, young looking Elizabeth Urikhos, 37, said all she wants is a piece of land on which she can build her own structures for her and her seven children.
“I am forced to live with my mother and my grandparents because of lack of land,” she said.
Many residents who spoke to New Era said those that own small numbers of livestock are forced to get rid of them as in most cases their animals graze onto neighbouring white commercial farmers’ land and thus get impounded to be released on payment of a N$100 fee.
“We cannot own livestock here, neither can we build permanent structures – what do they want us to do? We are unemployed, up to 16 people squeeze into one shack due to the unavailability of land here,” said Urikhos.
“People are killing each other, brothers and sisters are stamping on each other on a daily basis here because there is no space, we want land, we don’t want land to farm on, we want land so that we can build our structures to call home,” she said.
Government recently struck a land deal that saw Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov leasing four farms valued at N$43 million, and measuring a combined 17 000 hectares, for 99 years.
The deal, according to Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma, will see an investment of billions into infrastructure, conservation and job creation, though Dordabis residents say none of them have yet been employed as claimed.
Nujoma said the investment will commence immediately and during this month already a number of persons especially from the Dordabis area will be recruited in order to start development on the said farms.
When asked what he thinks of the investment by the Russian, Rooi said: “The Russian is not news here, he owns a lodge here but up until now I have not seen a single person from this village employed by him, what is new? Nothing,” he said.
“All we are hearing are stories after stories … that when he [Sardarov] comes all men should vacate the farms and only ladies are allowed there during his stay. We don’t know what he’s doing to them but that’s all we hear,” said the outspoken Rooi.
Community Development Committee (CDC) member and a teacher at a primary school at the village, Ockhuizen Isak, shared similar sentiments.
“I have been living and working here for the last 25 years. I am left with only three years before my retirement but honestly I do not know where to go from here, we are not allowed to build permanent structures here, where do we go?” he asked.
“We are squeezed in here, 400 metres this side is a white commercial farmer’s land, 600 metres the other side is a white commercial farmer’s land. To be honest we live in a corridor in our own country,” he added.
He said members of the CDC come up with good ideas on paper in terms of development but it all dissipates into thin air when these ideas reach Windhoek.
Isak said as a teacher at the primary school they bring up good and well-mannered learners but the learners’ lives end there.
“Most of the parents here cannot afford to send their children to high school because they simply can’t afford to. Well they will go but most of them end up dropping out of school due to lack of funds,” he said.