Namibian herders vanish in Angola

21 October 2019 | Local News

The Namibian government is demanding a database of local farmers taking their animals for grazing in Angola, as well as their number of cattle and the names of their herders, after reports of Namibians disappearing in the neighbouring country.

Some Namibian cattle herders have never returned, amid reports that they died in Angola, while their families and Namibian authorities never received official reasons for their disappearance. International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah revealed this during a meeting with Namibian farmers grazing in Angola at Omundaungilo in Ohangwena on Friday, which was attended by hundreds of farmers. She convened the meeting to inform the farmers about information she obtained from Angolan authorities and to hear about their challenges.

Namibian cattle have been grazing at Oshimholo in Angola since 2010, after some local farmers were chased away from Kavango West, amid illegal grazing accusations. According to Nandi-Ndaitwah, they are only allowed to graze within 60 kilometres of the border, but some Namibian farmers take their cattle 400 kilometres into Angola.

“We have no problem with you going to Angola, but the challenge is that we do not know you and your number of cattle. You have taken cattle herders with you into Angola, and what happens if they die in Angola? Are you sure you are not just doing the same thing that the colonisers used to do to their farmworkers? If you are doing these things it will haunt you in your life,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

“The government therefore wants to know how many Namibians are grazing in Angola, where they are, who are their cattle herders and how many cattle they have.

“When taking people to become your cattle herders in Angola you must communicate to their family members anything that happens to them while they are in Angola, their families must be informed.”

A lack of healthcare facilities where Namibians are grazing in Angola has been highlighted as a major challenge, especially when cattle herder fall ill.

Farmers were informed there are Namibian consulate offices at Ondjiva and Menongue where they can report their challenges.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Angolan authorities have reported that some Namibian farmers involve themselves in unlawful practices, such as the fencing off land, grazing beyond the agreed distance and conducting illegal hunting.

“Our grazing in Angola is only allowed because of historic political bonds between the two countries, dating from the time of Namibia's liberation struggle. This peaceful bond between our two countries is vital and you should not disturb it with bad conduct, as you let your cattle graze in Angola,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said although there is no signed agreement between the two countries, the grazing of Namibian cattle in Angola is permitted, provided that procedures are followed. Farmers are expected to have letters from their traditional authorities, accompanied by animal movement permits from the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS).

Among other officials who attended the meeting were Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa, Ohangwena regional councillors, Ohangwena police regional commander, Commissioner Shinedima Shindinge, northwest division chief veterinarian Dr Kennedy Shoombe, Angola desk officer at the international relations ministry Eldo Kaiyamo and traditional leaders.

The farmers said some Angolan nationals are threatening them, harassing herders or seizing their cattle and demanding payments.

Shoombe urged the farmers to always make sure they return their cattle back home for annual vaccination campaigns, in order to control diseases, since Angolan authorities are not vaccinating. He also urged them not to remove cattle ear tags when they are taking their animals into Angola.

“During our meeting with our Angolan counterparts, they reported to us that many of the cattle that were taken into Angola are dying of an unspecified disease. We, however, tasked them to assist us with collecting samples of these dying animals, so that we can see how we can assist.

“We are also asking you, as farmers, to assist us to collect samples of the dying animals and put them in your cooler boxes and bring to the DVS offices, so that we can be able to advise you on the drugs you need to buy,” Shoombe said.

“We are also faced with a challenge of not knowing how many Namibian cattle are in Angola. Some of you remove the cattle ear tags when going into Angola, to allow your cattle to be treated as those of Angolans, because their cattle have no tags.”

ILENI NANDJATO

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