Judicial

Land rights commission wants removal of illegal fences in commununal areas

Summary

The Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution, recommended that government remove illegal fences in communal areas as they have negative impacts on the livelihood of residents. The commission in its report to President Hage Geingob […]

The Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution, recommended that government remove illegal fences in communal areas as they have negative impacts on the livelihood of residents.

The commission in its report to President Hage Geingob on 24 July 2020, and availed to the public this week said that during the public hearings, testimonies presented pointed to the infringement of rights of access to the commonage, which have an impact on the sustainable livelihoods due to erection of fences in communal areas.

The illegal fencing was prominent reported in regions namely Kavango East, Kavango West, Omusati, Ohangwena and Oshikoto and to some degree in the Zambezi Region. Therefore, the Commission identified certain critical and urgent matters in those regions that warrant urgent and immediate government intervention.

“During the fact-finding visit, the Omusati Communal Land Board reported to the Commission that it was aware of 34 cases of illegal fencing and that the removal of all illegal fences in Omusati alone would enlarge the commonage by almost 50 000 hectares. Communal Land Boards of other regions informed the Commission of 55 illegal fencing cases in Kavango West, 18 in Kavango East, whilst the Zambezi, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto Communal Land Boards informed the Commission that no illegal fence cases were reported with these Land Boards,” reads the report.

However, when the Commission traveled through those Regions during the public hearings, it observed that extensive tracks of land have been fenced off, and deponents who have testified have also launched complaints regarding illegal fencing in those Regions.

“The Commission, during the validation visits for example, has confirmed that five persons have fenced off large tracks of land at Maporeza Village in the Mankupi Constituency of the Kavango West Region. The Commission also witnessed the impact of illegal fencing on the livelihoods of ordinary people as the fences are literally cutting off the villagers’ access to water resources, roads and other villages including enclosing their mahangu fields and grazing areas,” said the report.

It added that illegal fencing in communal areas has put people who are not dependent on Government for their basic needs into poverty traps, as they could make a living out of subsistence agriculture.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, in a media statement issued on Friday said the report has been distributed to members of the High Level Committee tasked to assist government in coordination of implementing Resolutions of the Land Conference, and it will be discussed at a meeting on 01 March 2021.

Source: Namibia Press Agency

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