Okakarara constituency councillor, Vetaruhe Kandorozu, says the town’s proclamation in 1992 has left indigenous farmers in despair and mayhem due to the reluctance displayed by the government in the resettlement process. In a brief interview with The Patriot this week, Kandorozu described the land situation in Okakarara as “terrible” and called on the government to address the situation. “The land situation is so terrible, so the issue needs to be addressed; these people in Okakarara are the rightful people that lost land, where land was taken away by the white colonisers,” said Kandorozu. With reference to Farm Ohamakari, Kandorozu complained that the farm measuring over 10 000 hectares is owned by one family. “Ohamakari is part of Okakarara and is about 10 000 hectares but is owned by one family, another farm (nearby Otjisaijena), which is more than 5 000 hectares is also owned by one family and many others. “Why can’t the government expropriate these farms for the benefit of the people whose ancestors lost land to white colonisers?” Kandorozu asked. Another farm, which could be ideal for the resettlement of farmers in the constituency is Farm Okozongominja, which measures well over 20 000 hectares, according to Kandorozu. The land issue is something that the President (Hage Geingob) and the Minister (Utoni Nujoma) sometimes do not understand. “They have their own commercial land, since they were in exile they have not experienced what is happening on the ground. They just read these things in the newspapers,” Kandorozu charged. Kandorozu pointed out that whenever opposition leaders and civil society groups raise issues of concern, they are “deemed as political by those in power”. “When Kandorozu is speaking they will say he’s an opposition member, what does he know? He’s just campaigning and looking for votes.
But they (government) are not listening to the message on the ground. I am just a conveyor belt of the pressure on the ground,” noted Kandorozu. Moreover, Kandorozu complained that the government has not taken care of those farmers who lived in Okakarara prior to its proclamation as a town in 1992. Kandorozu said livestock farmers in Okakarara find themselves between a rock and a hard place because government has done little to resettle them in the surrounding areas, which comes into conflict with the Local Authority Act of 1992 that prohibits livestock farming activities in proclaimed towns. “The farmers who first settled in the area have not been taken care of (resettled) by the government because, according to the Local Authority Act of 1992, no 19, no animals must move within the boundaries of a town. “However, the town found the farmers there and these people have nowhere to take their animals to, because there are no provisions in both the Communal and the Local Authority Act,” bemoaned Kandorozu. As a result, he complained that when his office approaches the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development with complaints of residents farming within the town boundary they are turned away. “If you go to the Urban and Rural Development Ministry and say I have these people with animals farming within the town boundary, they will say no we don’t deal with land (resettlement).
If you go to the Land Reform Ministry they will say we don’t deal with urban land so that is for the Rural and Development Ministry,” Kandorozu lamented. Consequently, accidents involving motor vehicles and cattle take place almost every weekend, which is both an economic loss and damage to property, says Kandorozu. Kandorozu attributed the plights that residents of Okakarara endure to the presence of animals in the town and to a lack of cooperation between the Land Reform and Urban Development ministries. “The two ministries do not speak to one another, there is no amalgamation there; they [don’t] see the importance of land. “We have requested for the expansion of Okakarara so that we can buy the adjacent farms and increase the square kilometres of the constituency and all these farms,” Kandorozu added. Subsequently, the farms which have been acquired can be used for the resettlement of residents of Okatumba, Okakango and Ohakane locations in order for them to move out of the boundaries of Okakarara. “However, the Ministry (Land Reform) is reluctant, it is actually ignoring, we have another virgin area but there is no water. If you have to drill, you will go 300 feet down the ground and you will still not have access to underground water,” Kandorozu lamented.
As for land reform, resettlement and re-distribution, Kandorozu said there was a need for a new approach, one that would address the issue by taking “history” into account. “The African National Congress (ANC) has been speaking the same [language] like the Swapo Party here in Namibia, but today the ANC is talking a different language. “ANC is saying let’s take the land back to the rightful people, either with compensation or without compensation, but here in Namibia we talk about nationalisation of land to all Namibians,” said Kandorozu. Rubbishing the talks on “nationalisation of land to all Namibia”, Kandorozu said government must come to the reality that not every Namibian “lost land”. “It’s a fact, the Oshiwambo-speaking [people] did not lose land, they must just agree, the Kavangos did not lose land; Caprivians did not lose land.
“They must give space to the Ovaherero, San and Damara-Nama. These are the people who lost land, let them get their portion and when there are leftovers, we can share as Namibians,” Kandorozu explained.