San, Hambukushu claim Bwabwata

11 July 2019 | Cultural

The Hambukushu Traditional Authority says the Bwabwata National Park belongs to them, while an ancestral land claim in this regard has also been made by the Kwee San, who are currently residing in the park.

The Hambukushu staked their claim yesterday at an ancestral land commission meeting that took place in Rundu.

The country's second national land conference that took place last year adopted 169 resolutions. Among these was a resolution on the issue of ancestral land claims and restitution, which resulted in the commission being established.

The Hambukushu argue they have the necessary maps to demonstrate that the national park belongs to them, which they will present to the commission.

They further argued they have been trying to address the matter with the environment ministry for years, but the parties never got a chance to sit down together.

“We have been writing to the ministry of environment for years that the park belongs to the Hambukushu, but up until today they did not come forth for a sitting. Bwabwata is ours and we have the maps from the Germans, which will show that the borders have been shifted,” the Hambukushu Traditional Authority said.

This was the second time this week that the Hambukushu claimed ownership of the national park, after doing the same during a similar platform at Mukwe.

This follows the Kwee San community claiming the Bwabwata National Park as theirs during a meeting at Omega in the Mukwe constituency.

The park was first proclaimed as the Caprivi Game Reserve in 1966 and upgraded to the Caprivi Game Park in 1968. It was gazetted as the Bwabwata National Park in 2007 and incorporated into the former Mahango Game Reserve.

Meanwhile, traditional authorities in the two Kavango regions have expressed concern over the trend of people settling wherever they want, without following customary law procedures. Hambukushu, Sambyu, Mbunza and Uukwangali traditional authority leaders said they are faced with a number of issues, especially the illegal settling of people in their areas of jurisdiction.

“People are now settling wherever they want, without following the procedures that are there, as per the customary law of our traditional authorities, something which is of great concern, and we want it to be addressed,” the traditional leaders said collectively.

The traditional authorities said they are threatened with court action when they approach those settling on their land without following the procedures.

“People talk of the freedom of settling wherever they want, and when we tell them they have to follow the procedures, they refuse to listen or they threaten to take you to court. We are not against the settling of people in our traditional authorities, but they must just follow the procedures that have been there,” they said.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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