Conservancy pleads for Shifeta's help

28 June 2018 | Environment

The N≠a Jaqna Conservancy has appealed to environment minister Pohamba Shifeta to say no to the fencing off of conservancy land. Sarah Zungu, the conservancy's chairperson. lashed the lands ministry saying it took media reports for them to sit up and take notice of their complaints and objections lodged over the years.

“It is very unfortunate that it takes media attention for the ministry to act on such a vital issue. Their response is now to try and undermine the position of the conservancy as representatives of the community,” she said.

The N≠a Jaqna Conservancy is a gazetted organisation with an annual general meeting which the environment ministry attends. The entire community is represented and it elects a management committee headed by a chairperson, which is responsible for sustainable land use practices in the area.

“Since reports appeared in the paper to protest the small-scale farms project (known as the Programme for Communal Land Development or PCLD), the conservancy communicated our opposition to the PCLD plans in N≠a Jaqna, both verbally at meetings, and in writing, constantly and consistently for many years,” Zungu said.

She added the previous chairperson of the conservancy also objected to the PCLD consultants and land ministry.

“We represent and voice the opinions of the legally resident San community.”

Zungu said at previous 'consultations' the conservancy was given assurances that plans would not proceed before illegal land grabbing and settlement had been dealt with. She added they were also told they would be able to give input into the model of support that would be implemented.

“These assurances have turned out to be meaningless,” she said.

She demanded that the conservancy's objections are heard and further that land grabbing and settlements are dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“We would like to call on Minister Shifeta to take an active role in supporting our gazetted conservancy in its efforts to preserve conservancy land for the whole local community to utilise. The minister, during his visit to the area in April 2018, saw for himself the extensive illegal fences and settlements. These have already significantly reduced the land available to be utilised rightfully by the local San community, according to their sustainable use plan.”

Zungu said the proposal will further limit the accessibility of the local community to conservancy land; land she says is currently used by trophy hunters and for the harvesting of devil's claw.

She appealed to Shifeta for his support in asking for the PCLD proposal to be turned into one that brings wider benefits to a greater number of the legitimate local indigenous San community.

“We can and will only support plans that benefit the majority of the legal San residents of the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy. We want illegal land grabbing and settlement to stop and be dealt with according to the laws,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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