THE Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, said that the government intends to tackle the problem of illegal fencing and occupation of state land to ensure that resettlement policies are taking effect and benefiting the targeted vulnerable groups.
The minister made these remarks while visiting Farm Bravo, which is a resettlement farm in the Kavango West Region. The farm was handed over to the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare and San communities were resettled on the farm.
Although intended for the resettlement of San people, the ministry said that they discovered that other people – that were not part of the resettlement group – were staying on the land. The ministry said that illegal fencing, which was possibly done by prominent people, was also discovered at the farm.
One of the San community members confirmed that other groups that are not part of the resettled group were staying on the land.
He explained that the other people got permission from the community, but their stay was not supposed to be permanent. However, he said, the other people have not left their land yet and the resettled community now fear losing their land.
Schlettwein said that the invasion of the resettlement scheme has resulted in some of the San people who were originally resettled on the land to “vanish”, along with their cattle. He added that “they are probably in a worse situation now than they were before”.
This, the minister said, is therefore a very serious issue. He said that the matter has been discussed with the traditional authorities, the governors and the councillors in the Kavango regions. However, he said, the whole issue of illegal fencing and displacement is not limited to the Kavango regions.
“It’s a problem that we face in many regions. People move in and through illegitimate ways get access to land without proper lease holds, agreements, without the authority of the traditional authorities, without the involvement of the land boards,” Schlettwein explained.
He said that the ministry has the legal tools to remove the illegal fencing and to charge the people who illegally erected the fences. The minister added that the ministry intends to make sure that the policies of governments that are aimed at assisting vulnerable groups are taking effect and reaching necessary target groups.
“It’s the whole series of events that need to be cleaned up and looked at so that our resettlement programmes go back to what they were supposed to do: resettle people that have no means to make a living and give them that means to make a living,” he said.