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Govt toughen up on illegal fencing

2021-01-26  Charles Tjatindi

Govt toughen up on illegal fencing

The Land Bill, which is currently before parliament, will allow for an increased fine for illegal fencing in a bid to rid the country of the practice, which has left many farmers without proper grazing for their livestock. 
According to an update on the resolutions of the second land conference released last month, such an act will attract a fine of N$15 000 once the bill becomes law. 

The fine for such transgression currently stands at N$4 000. 
This land bill aims to promote an efficient and transparent unitary system of land administration in Namibia.  
One of its main objectives is to make provisions for the acquisition of agricultural land by the State for the purposes of land reform. 
It also aims to address the allocation of such land to disadvantaged Namibian citizens who do not own or have limited access to adequate agricultural land due to discriminatory laws or practices.  

It also seeks to prohibit the acquisition of agricultural land by foreign nationals. The Land Bill is yet to be passed by Parliament. 
The report states that prior to the second land conference, a total of 107 fences were removed by Communal Land Boards with a total of 30.8Ha in the following regions: Omusati – 1.8 Hectares (Ha), Otjozondjupa 18.5Ha, Ohangwena – 6.712.51 Ha, and Omaheke: 3 716 Ha. 
The land bill also aims to introduce spot fines as it is a case on the forest Act and as relating to poaching. 

Furthermore, government will consider amending the relevant legislation provisions to shorten the process of removing illegal fencing. 
The report also stressed the importance of consultations between traditional leaders and farmers or residents when it comes to issues pertaining to the allocation of communal 

Section 22 of the Communal Land Reform Act, 2002 already provides that before TA or Chief considers application for allocation of any communal land and should make investigation and consult persons in connection with the application. 
“If any member of the traditional community objects to the allocation of the right, the TA must conduct a hearing to afford the applicant and such object or the opportunity to make representation in connection with the application,” the reports states. 
The illegal fencing of land in communal areas has made it increasingly difficult for many farmers to graze their cattle, especially during the dry months of the year. 

Whilst farmers in the constituency are grappling with one of the worst droughts to have hit them in recent years, most of them are unable to access large tracts of land, which have been fenced off for private use by some communal farmers. 
The practice, which is said to be largely perpetrated by well-off farmers in the area – some of whom already have commercial farms of their own – has become a serious concern among the farming community there. 

According to the set regulations, a person intending to fence off land for personal grazing first has to obtain written consent from their neighbours, the relevant traditional authority and from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.  While these procedures can be followed to fence off land, the government does not encourage such practices, as it reduces the available size of communal land for the other farmers and their livestock, AgriToday has learnt. 

The practice of erecting fences in Namibia’s communal areas dates back to the 1970s. The fencing of communal areas was initially reported mainly in the northern and central regions of Namibia, which today are the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omaheke regions. 
After independence in 1990, the practice spread rapidly, probably due to the absence of relevant legislation controlling the fencing of communal land. Since then, the practice has also spread into the Otjozondjupa and Kavango West and East regions.  
Section 18 of the Communal Land Reform Act (Act 5 of 2002) enacted in 2003 takes a strong position against the erection of fences on communal lands, amongst other legislation. 

2021-01-26  Charles Tjatindi

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