Govt to take aim at illegal fencing

Govt to take aim at illegal fencing

LAST week’s Cabinet retreat at Swakopmund resulted in advice that Government use an old Bantustan law to clamp down on illegal fencing in communal areas.

Land reform was one of four key areas discussed by members of Cabinet, permanent secretaries and the private sector at the three-day meeting. Cabinet decided more than four years ago that no one would be permitted to fence off more than 10 hectares of land in Namibia’s communal areas.On Friday, one of the four discussion groups recommended behind closed doors that the Ministry of Lands must start implementing that Cabinet decision.The group recommended that those who have already fenced off large parts of land in communal areas, with valid reasons, should be given the opportunity to apply for approval.The Cabinet decision was taken when President Hifikepunye Pohamba was still Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation.The old Apartheid regulations prohibit people from fencing off public watering places and were designed by the then South African regime to control the occupation of land in the “rural black areas” before Namibia’s Independence.Those contravening the laws face a maximum fine of 10 British Pounds (approximately N$110 at the current exchange rate) or an option of 14 days behind bars and, if it is a continuous offence, a fine of one Pound (N$10) a day for every day that the offence continues.Cabinet is concerned about “grave and uncontrolled” fencing in communal areas, especially in the Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions.Although land in communal areas is for the benefit of everybody, irrespective of their economic or social status, a lot of illegal fencing is going on which denies others much-needed grazing land, the group said.The working group called on Cabinet to inform traditional leaders not to allocate land beyond their limits.”There is a need to be flexible on what these limits might be,” it said.Prime Minister Nahas Angula said at the end of the retreat that an ad hoc Cabinet committee would be set up to harmonise all the recommendations and prepare them for approval by the ministers before the end of the year.”The year 2006 is the year of implementation,” Angula said.Most of the illegal fencing offenders are thought to be rich farmers and Government officials.Cabinet argues that communal land remains the property of Government and must be administered by traditional leaders on behalf of the State.Cabinet decided more than four years ago that no one would be permitted to fence off more than 10 hectares of land in Namibia’s communal areas.On Friday, one of the four discussion groups recommended behind closed doors that the Ministry of Lands must start implementing that Cabinet decision.The group recommended that those who have already fenced off large parts of land in communal areas, with valid reasons, should be given the opportunity to apply for approval.The Cabinet decision was taken when President Hifikepunye Pohamba was still Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation.The old Apartheid regulations prohibit people from fencing off public watering places and were designed by the then South African regime to control the occupation of land in the “rural black areas” before Namibia’s Independence.Those contravening the laws face a maximum fine of 10 British Pounds (approximately N$110 at the current exchange rate) or an option of 14 days behind bars and, if it is a continuous offence, a fine of one Pound (N$10) a day for every day that the offence continues. Cabinet is concerned about “grave and uncontrolled” fencing in communal areas, especially in the Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions.Although land in communal areas is for the benefit of everybody, irrespective of their economic or social status, a lot of illegal fencing is going on which denies others much-needed grazing land, the group said.The working group called on Cabinet to inform traditional leaders not to allocate land beyond their limits.”There is a need to be flexible on what these limits might be,” it said.Prime Minister Nahas Angula said at the end of the retreat that an ad hoc Cabinet committee would be set up to harmonise all the recommendations and prepare them for approval by the ministers before the end of the year.”The year 2006 is the year of implementation,” Angula said.Most of the illegal fencing offenders are thought to be rich farmers and Government officials.Cabinet argues that communal land remains the property of Government and must be administered by traditional leaders on behalf of the State.

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