Allow me to comment on a number of reports that have surfaced from the Caprivi Vision’s titled “Lake Lyambezi Fishers cry foul” and its sister news outlets in Namibia pertaining the growing land dispute(s) and the troubling fishing sector in the Caprivi region.
It’s quite shocking how Caprivians are being kicked-out of their land by a government that should be protecting and preserving their interests. Evicting people of Wenela from a land they had lived on for many years is very inhumane, especially when there is no other place being offered in exchange of the land being grabbed from the poor and marginalized community.
The miscalculated political activities in the Caprivi region are hard to fathom and will only enrage inhabitants of the area. People are being squeezed-off their only livelihood to a life of misery and destituteness.
As is the case of Muyako, people are being denied free access to their only source of income in the fishing industry, while residents of Wenela are being threatened with eviction-off their land by their own government.
Indeed, the actions prompted by some political opportunist to “reap” rewards or get some “kick-backs” by giving out land to so-called developers have potential to destroy people’s livelihood.
People living on the disputed land in the Wenela area deserve the protection of the Namibian government from its regional representative, Governor Lawrence Sampofu. The idea of evicting people without giving them alternative land and accommodation is a thing of the past practiced by the former colonial master, who had no respect for indigenous lives.
Governor Sampofu should be the one supporting residents of Wenela other than being the one pushing for the eviction order that will result in the suffering of Caprivian families. Families that count on his protection rather than him being the persecutor!
Who is the “government” if not the very people being chased off the land? Which government owns the land, if not the very people being evicted-off the land? Is someone drawing a line between a government and the people whom the very government must serve? Does that make sense?
Seemingly, the Caprivi Regional Council is set to strip Caprivians off their land on claims of being “state-owned” – reflective of reports that had equally surfaced in the Namibian Sun titled “Zambezi Heavyweights fighting for land.”
Along the same lines, the Mafwe Traditional Authority was stripped-off its custody over the same land after have been undermined and insulted by some officials from the Caprivi Regional Council, something unheard-off. Now, residents of Wenela have received marching orders to leave or face the wrath of police brutality.
Is this real?
Certainly, Caprivians residing in the Wenela area have every right to reject the “iron-fisted” approach from Governor Sampofu that threatens to bring-in the police. What will the police do, if not the same thing that Apartheid South African Police did of kicking and sjamboking those that resisted the eviction orders during the colonial rule?
Tell us! Are Caprivians being thrown back to the 60s to re-live the past atrocities that were committed against them by Apartheid South Africa? Why can’t the Namibian government allow those people to reside on the land in question until a plan is devised that will equally accommodate such people in the envisaged “Green-House Scheme.”
The Namibian government must understand that developing an area that is already inhibited by a community needs to be navigated with the cautious it deserves – knowing that land is the source of life for people, especially the ones living along the Wenela. Even though not “officially” employed, people in the Wenela area have managed to sustain themselves with the little they do on the land – earning some source of income for themselves and a market of the produce to many other families.
The little income made by residents of Wenela helps in sending children to school, paying for health services, so is buying from the established business community. Such is an economic cycle that keeps people happy. When the people are deliberately starved and denied the opportunity to expand their economic potential, crime and other social-ills can manifest themselves, so is political unrest.
Therefore, the Caprivi Regional Council should not be the one jumping up and down in the name of development by disadvantaging its own inhabitants residing on the land. Such acts, no matter the claims of development, will lead to the suffering of people and must be avoided by all means necessary.
Developing in whatever shape is a two-fold situation, where all parties must have a voice in promoting and embracing the intended governmental initiatives. If people are not made aware of what is at stake, nothing will work-out.
Adding insult to injury, the same ploy that has targeted residents of Wenela is curving its “ugly-head” with rumours of another land-grab in the areas of Masokotwani, Lusu and neighbouring villages in the name of development.
Does it mean that Caprivians cannot be empowered to develop their own land?
Or Caprivians shouldn’t be all surprised considering how Western Caprivi was forcefully expropriated from the region. From the look of things, people will now feel the pitch as every inch of their land is turned into some “government-project” that will be owned and profited by individuals from afar and their shady politician friends, which will result in the masses being landless.
It’s daylight robbery! The Namibian government must instruct its regional representative, Governor Sampofu, to stop all initiatives meant to disadvantage residents of Wenela, so is allowing an arbitrator to come in and assist in resolving the land dispute.
For the inhabitants of Muyako, it’s their birth-right to access the river for fishing purpose. That generates their income and supports their livelihood. GRN via the Ministry of Fisheries must not impose unnecessary fines that impedes people from living their normal lives. One cannot separate Caprivians from fishing, it’s in their blood!
Simply, charge fines on foreigners, but not the “bona fides” sons and daughters of the region.
In conclusion, the Caprivi Regional Council via the Regional Governor must be empathetic with the people, and be the voice for those needing their help. And GRN must put the interest of its citizens first than entertaining foreigners.
Holds: Nat. Dipl. Public Admin; HEd (PD); Ass. Crim.; B.Ed.