Illegal grazing spree

It is alleged that the culprits are using various tactics to sidestep applying through the traditional authority's office for legal grazing.

15 August 2019 | Agriculture

Uukwangali Traditional Authority chairperson of Christian Simuketa says over 2 000 cattle are grazing illegally in their area of jurisdiction.

He was elaborating on illegal cattle grazing in Kavango West, which was raised during a recent town hall meeting at Nkurenkuru.

At the meeting, Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku and Kavango West Regional Farmers Union (KWRFU) chairperson Sabine Mufenda both expressed their utmost disappointment over the illegal grazing taking place in the region.

It was revealed that the perpetrators are originally from Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Kunene, which are all in the grip of ongoing drought conditions.

Simuketa explained the culprits use various tactics to sidestep applying through the traditional authority's office, which is then supposed to hold extensive consultations with the community, before permission is given to graze.





Simuketa said the traditional authority charges N$50 per animal. He said they have thus far managed to prosecute six farmers for illegal grazing.

“They have to follow the procedure and apply through the office of the traditional authority and we will identify a place where they can graze, but most of the time what these farmers are doing, they are not coming to the office. We just hear that there are cattle somewhere deep in the bush,” Simuketa said.

“As we speak, there are more than 2 000 cattle in the bush and we don't know how they got there.”

Simuketa said they understand what farmers are going through, especially those from the Kunene Region, where rain has been minimal for the past three years, “but procedures are there to be followed and must be adhered to at all times.”

He said a common tactic used by the errant farmers is entering into agreements with certain community members to graze their cattle together, something the traditional authority does not approve of.

Namibian Sun has also been reliably informed that some of the farmers from drought-stricken areas have gone to the extent of 'selling' their cattle to Kavango residents. However, this is a simple cover-up to graze their animals, as those who supposedly purchase these animals do not have the funds to do so.

“No one has the authority to give anyone permission to graze their livestock in the Uukwangali area, apart from the traditional authority. If we catch you, you will be dealt with. So far we have come across six farmers and they were dealt with the traditional way,” Simuketa said.

He said cattle herders live a nomadic life, as they move from one area to the next, which makes it difficult for the traditional authority to address the issue.

Simuketa said another challenge is rebellious cattle herders, who show no respect and do not fear the law.

“Some of them will tell you that they will not move unless you kill them first, because they have nowhere else to move their cattle to and it's very challenging to engage a person who has that type of mindset,” Simuketa said.



Illegal fencing

Another issue raised during the Nkurenkuru town hall meeting was illegal fencing, which Simuketa says limits the grazing areas available to farmers in the community.

In Kavango West a total of 60 illegal fences have been erected without the consent of the various traditional authorities.

Simuketa said this another headache for them, as farmers have developed a trend of running to the courts and obtaining court orders, when they are told to remove their fences.

“Illegal fencing is another challenge, because the moment you tell the person to remove the fence, or you want to remove it, they run to the courts to obtain a court order. We all know that court proceedings are costly and they take time to be resolved,” he explained.

Simuketa said the traditional authority is in the process of engaging various ministries to seek solutions.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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