Rehoboth Baster Community

Govt Rejects Baster Land Claim

Published by May 12, 2008

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The claim by the Rehoboth Baster Council that no land in the area can be bought or sold without its permission and endorsement has been rejected by the Government as being in contempt of the High Court, stated a statement by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Lidwina Shapwa.

On Friday the Rehoboth Council in a statement similarly denounced the same land claim “as an effort to confuse and ethnically divide the inhabitants”.

“The Kaptein Raad’s statement appears to be an attack, not only on the judiciary, but also on the country’s Constitution. Article 1 (4) of the Constitution describes the national territory recognised by the international community through the organs of the United Nations as Namibia, and this includes the area known as Rehoboth. Our laws apply equally on Rehoboth as they apply on any other part of Namibia. To advocate anything to the contrary would amount to going against our fundamental law,” Shapwa said.

She said the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate cases involving the interpretation, implementation and upholding of the Constitution.

“The statement by the Rehoboth Baster Council appears to be in contempt of court. The Minister of Lands and Resettlement opts not to be drawn into the debate as our fundamental law on the issue and the country’s High Court has pronounced itself on the matter,” she said.

The land issue, according to the Rehoboth Town Council, has become a tool for certain individuals and socio-political groups probably to gain support.

“The people in this area have expressed their willingness to be participatory partners towards reconciliation, socio-economic development, political stability, peace and harmony in Rehoboth and the surrounding town lands.

The Council is demographically elected and is an established local authority.

It is confident about the change of mindsets of the people in terms of commitment and participation towards national incentives of the government,” a press statement from the council said.

It went on to say that Rehoboth has been proclaimed a town in terms of the Local Authorities Act like all other towns, which were previously governed as traditional authorities.

“Jurisdiction is vested in the town council to control and manage the town including the surrounding areas, commonly referred to as town lands on behalf of the inhabitants of this area of over 54 000 hectares,” the statement referring to the Constitution on property vesting in the Government of Namibia.

The council is further of the opinion that all traditional authorities are declared on State and not on local authority land.

“In terms of land or property alienation, the town council has the mandate to sell available land or property in order to generate income. The necessary approval is granted by the line ministry and no other organisation including the so-called Baster Council,” the statement repudiated John McNab’s claim.

The inhabitants are misled with the information that erven are ‘freely’ available and that this land belongs to them.

“The Rehoboth Town Council is supportive of an all-inclusive approach where all Namibians are invited to participate in property auctions contributing to the economic development of this town. The inhabitants should reject claims of exclusive and ancestral ownership of land as suggested by certain political bodies for own gain,” it said.

Source: NewEra