Pressure group protests over land

Keetmanshoop – A Keetmanshoop land rights pressure group once again staged a protest against the land resettlement programme here in the capital of //Karas Region on Wednesday.

The group, calling itself TeamSwartbooi, has been at the forefront of land protests in //Karas and once again protested in front of a lodge at Keetmanshoop where the region’s land resettlement committee was meeting.

The group’s initial plan to stage a silent protest inside the hall where the meeting was to take place, was however did not come to fruition as they were only allowed to demonstrate outside the lodge, far from where the meeting was convened.

Group leader Ferdinand Jacobs on Tuesday wrote a letter to //Karas Governor Lucia Basson, the chairperson of the resettlement committee, informing her of their intentions. “The silent protest will take place inside the hall or room where the committee is to conduct the meeting,” reads their letter.

The letter further stated that the aim of the protest was to demonstrate the residents’ displeasure and dismay with the manner in which farming land allocations are done under the current resettlement programme.

Responding to the group, Basson advised them not to go ahead with the protest, citing various pieces of legislation that prohibits public members from attending such meetings.

“Allow me to inform you that it’s against the provisions of the enabling legislation for any member of the public to sit in a meeting of the //Karas Regional Resettlement Committee, other than duly elected members of the committee,” she stated.

The letter further informed the group of the right channels to be used to air their concerns, while she added that as chairperson of the committee she will request the assistance of the police to ensure the meeting is not disturbed in any way and that no one is intimidated.

Jacobs, however, told New Era that although the governor requested that they stop their protest, the governor had agreed telephonically that the group would be given a chance to address the committee before the meeting starts.

He accused Basson of not keeping her word, saying that instead of being heard the group was denied entry and that Basson never made any attempt to listen to them.

“She suggested it and said, as chairperson, she will allow us audience before the meeting starts, but today she just sent the owner of the lodge to tell us that we can’t enter,” Jacobs reported.

Concerned citizen Simon Isaak is of the opinion that the traditional leaders are not representing the best interests of their people and said their subjects are not happy with the way the land issue is being handled and felt the traditional leaders should boycott the resettlement committees, as they apparently do not benefit their subjects.

He also feels the traditional leaders are being pushed around like puppets to attend useless and meaningless meetings, that do not benefit their people.

“What’s the use of attending these meetings if our leaders’ decisions and recommendations are never taken into consideration? It’s meaningless, as all their decisions are overruled by the minister [of land reform, Uutoni Nujoma],” he said and called on the leaders to boycott these meetings.

Governor Basson couldn’t be reached for further comment as she was still in the meeting at the time of going to press.

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