By Eliaser Ndeyanale
THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism has failed to guard and maintain fences for game farms in the Otjozondjupa region bought by Government last year for about N$50 million.
The farms in question are Gusinde No.197 and Osema situated in the Ovitoto area, which measure about 20 000 hectares and were transferred into the name of the Government on February 23 2016.
In a letter dated May 23 which is in Confidente’s possession, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Lands Peter Amutenya requested his counterpart in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) Malan Lindeque for his ministry to assist in guarding the game farms and maintaining fences as the Ministry of Lands lacks expertise in managing and maintaining farms; however this never happened.
“In light of the above, I am appealing to your office to provide staff with requite expertise, in the interim to patrol the farms and protect the game and infrastructures until suitable candidates are identified who would be resettled on the farms subject to them providing a comprehensive business management plan for the operation of the farm,” Amutenya wrote to Lindeque.
The insiders also said now that Lindeque had not responded to Amutenya, the Ministry of Lands has sought an agreement with the National Youth Services to guard the farm until such a time Government chooses a successful candidate to be resettled on the farm.
Sources closer to the matter claimed that Lindeque has ignored Amutenya’s letter and now the farms have been vandalised by residents who have already cut fences and let their livestock graze on the farms and that some game animals have escaped from the farm as the number of poachers has increased and the Namibian police in Ovitoto has opened a case of illegal hunting on the farm.
According to the documents, at the time of purchasing the farms there were 773 game animals on farm Gusinde valued at N$3.08 million.
Contacted for comment, Lindeque’s office insisted that Confidente sends the letter so that he could respond, but he failed to comment despite the letter having been sent.
“I am still following up on the letter with the director. We will get back to you,” said a woman in Lindeque’s office.
Last month an English weekly reported that community members in the Ovitoto raised concerns that the Government allotment of Osema and Gusinde game farms would not benefit them, and that land would be dished out to politically connected individuals.
The Ministry of Land Reform ran a newspaper advert on August 25, which indicated that farms Osema and Gusinde were up for allotment, and people were encouraged to apply.
Ovitoto residents this week said that they fear that top Government officials may influence the ministry to give the land to connected individuals.
In the past, the people of Ovitoto have raised concerns about their limited living space and grazing areas, which they continue to endure.
As a result, former Minister of Land and Resettlement Alpheus !Naruseb indicated in 2013 that Ovitoto would be expanded in line with the recommendations of the 1991 Land Conference.
However, the people of Ovitoto feel that Omatjete, Otjimbingwe and Okombahe residents have already benefited from the recommendations of the conference, while they are still struggling with living space and resettlement.
They then felt they should benefit from the Gusinde and Osema land, measuring about 9 128 hectares.
On September 19, a delegation led by Ovitoto chief, Vipuira Kapuuo, paid a courtesy call to Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma.
The purpose of the visit was to inform the minister that there is a dire need for the expansion of the Ovitoto communal area, which lacks living and grazing space.
Nujoma, however, allegedly informed the delegation that Gusinde and Osema were bought specifically for the resettlement of game farmers.
This led to members of the Ovitoto community speculating that only politically connected individuals would benefit, rather than the masses. The people of Ovitoto also suggested that the land should be given to the Ovitoto conservancy, so that it can benefit the people directly. The Government has also come under heavy criticism for buying game farm land around Ovitoto, while the people need space to graze their cattle and live on.
Ministry of Lands spokesperson Chrispin Matongela told Confidente that the request by his ministry was attended to but could not confirm if the MET had responded.
“We are aware that the farms have been severely vandalised,” he said while questioning the patriotism of those who vandalised the farms. He also said that National Youth Service that has been tasked to guard the farms is not doing enough to protect the farms.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015