RUNDU – Communal land boards across the country are facing a challenge of many requests for land in their areas, with over 30 000 applications yet to be processed, land reform minister Calle Schlettwein has said.
Applications for both existing and new customary land rights have increasingly gone up despite numerous achievements recorded over the last three years by the outgoing communal land boards.
Schlettwein last week Friday inaugurated the communal land boards for Kavango East, Kavango West, Ohangwena and Zambezi at Rundu.
“Allow me now to extend my words of appreciation to the previous communal land boards for the achievement recorded during their tenure of office from 1 March 2018 to 28 February 2021,” he said.
The outgoing communal land boards registered and issued 4 331 existing customary land rights certificates, and registered and issued 9 823 new customary land rights certificates.
They also registered and issued 494 rights of leaseholds certificates and registered and issued about 110 occupational land rights certificates, while they transferred 327 land rights and issued land rights certificates.
They also resolved 198 land-related disputes and removed four illegal fences in communal areas.
“For the same period, a total of 46 judgments were delivered for appeal cases against communal land boards’ decisions,” the minister noted.
Schlettwein appealed to the new members to develop a target-orientated strategy that will complete the registration of all outstanding applications in their respective regions, especially for existing customary land rights.
The minister stressed that land administration matters are emotive; therefore, in some cases some, individuals incite communities, yet they are not capable of resolving land problems.
“Our commitment to land reform is genuine. Our course is to promote a peaceful land administration throughout our country – therefore, to ensure a functionary communal land administration throughout all our 13 regions where communal is found,” he said.
So far, countrywide, a total of 181 members have been appointed to serve on the seventh communal land boards. Of this total, 75 are women, which represents 41%. Among others, communal land boards are expected to exercise control over the allocation and the cancellation of customary land rights by traditional authorities, to consider and decide on applications for right of leaseholds, to establish and maintain a register and a system of registration for recording allocations, transfers as well as cancellation of all land rights allocated in communal areas.
Schlettwein said he expects the new boards to create awareness in their respective communities on the provisions of the Communal Land Reform Act, with an emphasis on non-compliance to the provisions of the Communal Land Reform Act, registration of land rights, illegal sand mining, deforestation and illegal fencing.
“Tenure security is part of their legal rights to have and nobody must stop anyone from applying for the registration of their land rights.
Tenure security reduces incidences of land grabbing, evictions, non-compensation in terms of development, inheritance and so on,” he said.