Uproar over fenced off dam

With severe drought being experienced in the area, villagers say their livestock have nowhere to quench their thirst.

26 February 2019 | Local News

Inhabitants of Ohakweenyanga and the surrounding villages staged a peaceful demonstration over the weekend and handed over a petition to the Oshana regional governor's office in which they requested the urgent removal of a fence erected around a community earthen dam.

With severe drought being experienced in the area, their livestock have nowhere to drink.

They claim that this follows a dubious deal with businessman Tobias Kuutumbeni, which allegedly saw him buying the community earthen dam and the surrounding Ohakweenyanga village land.

Wilbard Nangombe, who read the petition, said that the community earthen dam was excavated in 1957, as a water catchment area situated in the Cuvelai water basin stream.

He said the dam could save animals in the area, especially during drought. He said in 2015 Oneleiwa village headman, Silas Ndakolonghoshi, allegedly sold the community earthen dam and the surrounding Ohakweenyanga village land to the business magnate.

The businessman has fenced off the community earthen dam at Ohakweenyanga near the Ongwediva roadblock, thereby denying local livestock and the community access to water. “In drought crisis like this, this dam used to supply us with water for domestic use and also for our livestock. It is the only water catchment place in the area and now it has been fenced off and we do have access to its water anymore,” the petition reads.

“This dam belongs to the community, as state property. No one has the right to buy or sell it. We was warned him from the beginning, but he resisted the advice.”

Villagers from Elombe, Oneleiwa, Ohakweenyanga and Efidilomulunga attended and participated in the demonstration.

Last year former Oshana governor Clemens Kashuupulwa invited Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to intervene in the dispute.

Kashuupulwa told Kuugongelwa-Amadhila that Kuutumbeni was supposed to engage the regional council and also follow the right procedures to acquire the land and establish the project.

Receiving the petition, special advisor to the Oshana governor, Michael Mwinga, told the community the prime minister's visit was an indication their voices have been heard.

“Your issue is already receiving attention from the authorities. Remember that last year we were here with the prime minister. She took a look at what the dam looked like and she also heard from the two traditional authorities involved.

“The office of the governor is requesting Mr Ndakolonghoshi to submit the statement he made before the prime minister so that we can have balanced information,” Mwinga said.

“For the government to take a well-informed decision or action, it involves a process. We understand your request to have the fence removed from the state property, but on the other hand the fence that is erected also has a cost involved. Therefore, to harmonise the situation we will call a community hearing again where we will take a sound decision.”

It was reported that Kuutumbeni paid N$22 000 to Ndakolonghoshi. He also paid N$5 000 to Onamutayi district senior headman Amon Shipanga and excavated an earthen dam for him at his homestead at Onamutayi. He also paid N$11 000 to Ohakweenyanga village headman Daniel Kayili.



ILENI NANDJATO

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