Battle lines harden in Kavango

Battle lines harden in Kavango

GABRIEL Shatiwa (60) is fighting for the life of his farm in the Kavango.

But his struggle may be the undoing of other Oshiwambo-speaking farmers who are being pushed out of the area. The chief of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Sitentu Mpasi, vowed in an exclusive interview with The Namibian yesterday that no Owambo-speaking farmers will ever be allowed to return until this man leaves the Ukwangali area.”This man came into the area without my permission.He took missing cattle for himself instead of bringing these cattle to me, according to our tradition,” Chief Mpasi said.He also accused him of lying to the people, that he had paid two cows to the chief for the land in 1986.”It is not a practice of my tribe to sell land,” he said.”All those who received land from my tribe got it for free.Go and ask them.”Shatiwa told The Namibian that he got permission from Chief Mpasi to be in Ukwangali.He showed an Ukwangali registration card as proof.But Chief Mpasi said he never provided such a card to him.He suggested he might have received it from a village headman and this never made him a citizen of the Ukwangali tribe.”It was not given with my permission and I have been king since 1975.”Shatiwa was also the victim of cattle poisoning after 68 head of cattle drank from a poisoned well in 2004.He reported the incident to Police, who investigated.Frans Ngoma (54) the headmaster of a school in the Ukwangali area, was suspected of poisoning the well and appeared twice in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court, where the case was dismissed as unfounded.Ngoma was tracked down by The Namibian early on Thursday morning at his school.”The Shatiwa people are hating me and behind this,” he said.”I swear truly that I haven’t poisoned their cattle.”However, the chief has permitted Ngoma to take over a 25-square-kilometre tract of land for farming.And Shatiwa’s farm is inside this tract.Ngoma is fencing in his land, which he rents from Chief Mpasi for N$400 a year on a 99-year lease.Shatiwa said he can’t understand that land he has occupied for 20 years is now being given to someone else without his knowledge.He showed The Namibian an eviction letter from Chief Mpasi in July 2004, that he must immediately vacate the farm area and go back to where he came from.Shatiwa, who is married to three women, one of whom is related to the chief, said he has no place to go.He said he will not budge and is planning to plough his mahangu fields when the rains come.”Where am I going with my wives and my many children?” he asked.He said Police came several times to force him to vacate the house.”The Police told me the chief had said if the Ukwangali wives don’t want to go, and then the Police will sleep with them,” Shatiwa said.Meanwhile, Police are continuing to sweep through the western Kavango to chase the evicted farmers back to former Owambo.They have arrested two cattle herders on charges of resisting the eviction order.Many cattle have been left to roam freely in the Kavango after the herders ran away to avoid arrest.The cattle herders chased out have found themselves in the Luwaya corridor of the Owambo communal area.There is very limited water and grass in this area because the Owambo farmers have fenced off the area.Chief Mpasi said his traditional authority originally gave this communal land to the Owambo-speaking people, especially the Ovakwanyama-speaking people.They were charged for this land of 120 kilometres by 50 kilometres.But these people have since sold the land among themselves and fenced it off in huge farms.The chief said he is willing to allow the Oshiwambo-speaking people to reapply for grazing land in his area in April and May of next year, provided Shatiwa has left the area.But he said if the other farmers don’t leave the area by then, no one will be allowed back.Meanwhile, the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, in collaboration with the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, is working on a small-scale commercial farm system in the western Kavango.These plots will be 25 square kilometres in size and will be available to all citizens of Namibia, but Kavango-speaking people will get four plots for each one allocated to outsiders.The chief of the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Sitentu Mpasi, vowed in an exclusive interview with The Namibian yesterday that no Owambo-speaking farmers will ever be allowed to return until this man leaves the Ukwangali area.”This man came into the area without my permission.He took missing cattle for himself instead of bringing these cattle to me, according to our tradition,” Chief Mpasi said.He also accused him of lying to the people, that he had paid two cows to the chief for the land in 1986.”It is not a practice of my tribe to sell land,” he said.”All those who received land from my tribe got it for free.Go and ask them.”Shatiwa told The Namibian that he got permission from Chief Mpasi to be in Ukwangali.He showed an Ukwangali registration card as proof.But Chief Mpasi said he never provided such a card to him.He suggested he might have received it from a village headman and this never made him a citizen of the Ukwangali tribe.”It was not given with my permission and I have been king since 1975.”Shatiwa was also the victim of cattle poisoning after 68 head of cattle drank from a poisoned well in 2004.He reported the incident to Police, who investigated. Frans Ngoma (54) the headmaster of a school in the Ukwangali area, was suspected of poisoning the well and appeared twice in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court, where the case was dismissed as unfounded.Ngoma was tracked down by The Namibian early on Thursday morning at his school.”The Shatiwa people are hating me and behind this,” he said.”I swear truly that I haven’t poisoned their cattle.”However, the chief has permitted Ngoma to take over a 25-square-kilometre tract of land for farming.And Shatiwa’s farm is inside this tract.Ngoma is fencing in his land, which he rents from Chief Mpasi for N$400 a year on a 99-year lease.Shatiwa said he can’t understand that land he has occupied for 20 years is now being given to someone else without his knowledge.He showed The Namibian an eviction letter from Chief Mpasi in July 2004, that he must immediately vacate the farm area and go back to where he came from.Shatiwa, who is married to three women, one of whom is related to the chief, said he has no place to go.He said he will not budge and is planning to plough his mahangu fields when the rains come.”Where am I going with my wives and my many children?” he asked.He said Police came several times to force him to vacate the house.”The Police told me the chief had said if the Ukwangali wives don’t want to go, and then the Police will sleep with them,” Shatiwa said.Meanwhile, Police are continuing to sweep through the western Kavango to chase the evicted farmers back to former Owambo.They have arrested two cattle herders on charges of resisting the eviction order.Many cattle have been left to roam freely in the Kavango after the herders ran away to avoid arrest.The cattle herders chased out have found themselves in the Luwaya corridor of the Owambo communal area.There is very limited water and grass in this area because the Owambo farmers have fenced off the area.Chief Mpasi said his traditional authority originally gave this communal land to the Owambo-speaking people, especially the Ovakwanyama-speaking people.They were charged for this land of 120 kilometres by 50 kilometres.But these people have since sold the land among themselves and fenced it off in huge farms.The chief said he is willing to allow the Oshiwambo-speaking people to reapply for grazing land in his area in April and May of next year, provided Shatiwa has left the area.But he said if the other farmers don’t leave the area by then, no one will be allowed back.Meanwhile, the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, in collaboration with the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, is working on a small-scale commercial farm system in the western Kavango.These plots will be 25 square kilometres in size and will be available to all citizens of Namibia, but Kavango-speaking people will get four plots for each one allocated to outsiders.

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