Wenela Land Saga Takes Another Twist

The dust just won’t settle on the dispute over the ownership of a piece of land at Wenela near Katima Mulilo along the banks of the Zambezi River. The latest claimant of the land is the Liselo Khuta under the Mafwe Traditional Authority.

“We are calling on all our subjects that we have given land to at Wenela to start clearing and using the land because the communal land board does not want to give us certificates. We also want development in areas under Chief (George) Mamili’s jurisdiction,” stated an induna at Liselo Khuta, Lennox Lutambo.

Lutambo has accused the leadership of both the regional council and the town council of “tribalism” and wanting to seize communal land under the jurisdiction of Liselo by force.

He further said communications by Chief George Simasiku Mamili to Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu, the Chief Regional Officer, Regina Ndopu-Lubinda and the CEO of Katima Mulilo Town Council, Charles Nawa, to resolve the issue amicably have apparently been snubbed.

“There’s tribalism in this region. We have summoned them several times but they have refused to come. Why are they not respecting our traditional authority? Four to five letters have been written so far. They just go to Chinchimane during Lusata festivals,” complained Lutambo.

According to Lutambo, the area under contention has been known to be part of Liselo from time immemorial and the indunas once allocated a piece of land in the area to a certain Finaughty, a white businessman who at the time helped residents during Namibia’s struggle for independence.

Lutambo said prior to that, the area served as crop fields for local inhabitants. “That area used to be our fields. There was even an airfield in that area. The area where there is the building for the CEO of Katima used to be the drinking point for our cattle,” said Induna Lutambo. Lutambo suggested if the state or town council felt it needed more land it should have consulted the traditional authority as it had done before with the building of other infrastructure in the area.

“No meetings were conducted with the community or the traditional authority. When the power station was built, they consulted Induna Liselo and the Mamili Khuta. Even the Katima quarantine camp was granted by the khuta including the area where the Wenela border is currently located. If they want an extension, they were supposed to consult the traditional authority that our land is no longer enough. People who were evicted at Bukalo were compensated, why not us?” questioned Lutambo.

Lutambo alleged that the dispute started in 2011 when the traditional authority allocated a piece of land to one of its subjects at Stone City, a popular recreational area on the banks of the river, for the construction of a lodge.

“When we gave one of our subjects a piece of land at Stone City, that’s when the dispute started. About N$70 000 was spent to clear that area,” said Lutambo.

He accused the chief regional officer, who doubles as the chairperson of the Zambezi Communal Land Board, of deliberately failing to issue customary land rights to three people that have been allocated land in the area in dispute.

“We have given three people land there already. These people cannot get certificates because Ndopu-Lubinda herself is part of the people who want to take this land. And imagine that these people are paying rental fees to the chief without even using their land,” lamented Lutambo.

Lutambo claims the extension of town land has even affected his village at Liselo on the western outskirts of Katima Mulilo.

Source : New Era