University wants families off its farms

The request from UNAM came early this month when a technical team, which was reportedly mandated by the tertiary institution’s vice-chancellor, descended upon the farm and instructed the families there to move out of Doringboom and back to the neighbouring Otjinakui farm, which is also owned by UNAM. UNAM pro-vice chancellor for finance and administration Zacheus Kazapua said that the seven families were requested verbally to vacate the farm in order to enable the university to use Doringboom for its originally intended purpose as a training base for students studying agriculture and other natural sciences. “The initial idea was to put up infrastructure at Doringboom to make it possible for students to be trained there. But, we can also try to find someone who could run the farm on a commercial basis, provided that such person helps with the training of students,” said Kazapua. Gift Kamupingene of UNAM’s Agriculture Faculty, who is part of the delegation that has been in contact with the seven families, said the university had since 1999 been prevented from implementing most of its projects on the farm because of the illegal occupants. “Most of these people (at Doringboom) came from Otjinakui where they were originally placed by government due to the severe droughts of those years. But they went into Doringboom without consulting the university, and even brought along others through dubious means. Now we need the farm, and we told them that the UNAM management wants them to go back to Otjinakui,” said Kamupingene. He said the “illegal occupants” were first told to move out by 10 May 2006, but some requested an extension at least until month-end to enable them to make all necessary arrangements before they move back to Otjinakui. However, some families at Doringboom have complained that UNAM is not playing open cards with them because they believe they have not been informed of the real reason why they are suddenly being forced out of the farm. “We understand that the real reason why they want us out is because they want one of the families here ‘ the Tjijahuras ‘ to lease the entire farm and not this student training business that they want us to believe,” one concerned farmer said. His fears were confirmed recently when it became apparent that the Tjijahura family, which originally came from Kalkfeld, had no intention of leaving Doringboom for Otjinakui. One of the Tjijahura brothers, Michael Tjijahura, said his family has settled at Doringboom and would not be affected by UNAM’s request for all farmers to vacate the place. “We have a special agreement to hire the place from UNAM. We have already applied, and so there’s no reason why we should also prepare to leave,” he said. Kazapua confirmed in an earlier interview that the Tjijahuras had applied to occupy the farm, but said that no agreement to that effect has yet been reached between UNAM and the family. “They have not yet gotten the okay from us because I’m still in the process of submitting their application letter to the vice-chancellor. It is up to the vice-chancellor to decide. For now, the Tjijahura family must move back to Otjinakui like everybody else,” Kazapua stressed. ‘ NAMPA.

May 2006
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