Town seeks advice over land grabs

Ongwediva-The Oniipa Town Council will request a meeting with the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development about the alleged illegal occupation of land in 10 villages that fall under the jurisdiction of the town.

Dubious land transactions and alleged land grabbing from the poor for resale to the rich by some people linked to the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) are reportedly rife, despite the area having been proclaimed a town almost two years ago.

Local headmen received the proclamation that annuls the (OTA) power in the proclaimed area with mixed-feelings, hence the continuation of land sales.

CEO of Oniipa, Junias Jakob said that while they sought advise from the concerned ministry they would take a stand as the legal owner.

"The law is clear. From the date when the town was proclaimed the local authority became the legal owner of the land that falls within the town boundaries. And no one has the right to sell or buy it from anybody. As a local authority we have not started selling," he said.

The council is still formalising the occupied land on the northern side of the town in preparation for commencement of land sales.

They will give current occupants the chance to buy the land.

The council has yet to formalise the rest of the town.

With the budgetary constraints the council faces it has struggled to compensate land owners, but it has made progress as it compensated some people between 2015/2016.

"We are sitting with the cards of people whom the Ministry of Land has evaluated for their communal land and homesteads but then we don't have enough money to compensate those people," Jacob said.

However, so far they have evaluated 20 land owners, but council has only procured N$900 000 instead of the N$1 million needed to compensate the people.

Jakob said council had engaged the local community on different platforms, including the Ondonga Traditional Authority and their headmen on what is expected of them now that their villages fall within the town's boundaries.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia