Governors tackle Namibia, Angola grazing conflict

BORDER TALKS … Governors from the regions bordering Angola, including the Zambezi, Kavango West and East, Ohangwena, Oshana and Omusati regions, at the forum. Photo: Contributed

Ohangwena governor Sebastian Ndeitunga says the forum of governors of the regions bordering Angola is expected to help eliminate tension over grazing between Namibian cattle herders and Angolan citizens.

Ndeitunga was elected as the forum’s chairperson on Thursday.

Over past two years tensions have grown between the Angolan and Namibian governments regarding Namibian farmers who let their cattle graze in Angola.

The farmers are accused of taking advantage of the opportunity they have been granted to graze their cattle in Angola due to drought in Namibia.

Some Namibians have allegedly started erecting permanent structures as well as cultivating mahangu fields in Angola, which has caused an uproar, with Angolan citizens saying Namibians are taking advantage of their kindness.

“The issue has created unnecessary tension between between the residents of southern Angola and the Namibian farmers who graze their cattle there,” Ndeitunga said.

He said the governor of Angola’s Cunene province has publicly expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation.

“As a result there were feelings towards the expulsion of Namibian cattle farmers from Angola, based on the accusations that they were not respecting the laws of Angola by allegedly setting up illegal fences and permanent structures in areas where they grazed without the necessary permission of the Angolan authorities,” Ndeitunga said.

“We know that to reduce tensions the former minister of international relations and cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, travelled to Angola in 2023 to appeal to that government to allow Namibian farmers to continue grazing their cattle until a permanent and amicable solution to the situation was found,” he said.

Ndeitunga said the forum of governors still has to meet its Angolan counterparts for it to be ratified.

“The forum has been established, but still has to be ratified with our Angolan counterparts so that we can all agree on principles. We are meeting with our Angolan counterparts on a date yet to be determined,” he said.

Ndeitunga said the idea to establish the forum was initiated by the region’s first governor, Usko Nghaamwa.

“Furthermore, the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation gave specific instructions to the governor of the Ohangwena region to organise the meeting and activate the forum,” he said.

Ndeitunga said while the scope of the work of the governors’ forum covers a wide range of political, security and commercial issues affecting both countries, its activation has become more urgent due to the burning issue of Namibian farmers grazing in Angola.

“The long-term objective is further to deal with issues related to trade, security and immigration, customs and socio-economic activities in both countries.”

Omusati governor Erginus Endjala, who was selected as the forum’s deputy chairperson, highlighted that as governors bordering Angola they experienced a lot of challenges when it comes to solving problems between the two countries, however, with the forum activated that is expected to be resolved.

“The forum as a platform is really going to help smoothen things out, because Angola and Namibia share the same healthcare, business and social challenges,” he said.

Nghaamwa said the idea was born from shared challenges that he realised required a united front in order to be tackled.

“All the regions bordering Angola have the same challenges. We have issues of drought, cattle grazing and a lot of criminal activities, including the smuggling of oil from Angola into Namibia.

“What we want is for peace to be maintained between the two countries and that can only happen when we all unite and work together. I am glad that the forum has been launched and finally activated,” he said.

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