Harambee for the San?
The San community of Na Jaqna Conservancy have once again been disappointed by the delay of the judgement on their case to evict illegal settlers off their community land, which has been repeatedly shelved since 2014.
As no one is allowed to settle in the wildlife zone, the Conservancy wants to evict all illegal settlers in the wildlife zone, and those who do not have the necessary permission from the Traditional Authority and Land Board to settle in Na Jaqna conservancy.
At the same time the Communal land Board, who ordered the removal of at least 77 illegal fences several years ago, has delayed forcible removal of those fences where orders were not complied with. This has resulted in additional illegal fences going up and illegal grazers entering due to the obvious lack of law enforcement and seriousness of the government to protect our lawful rights.
We, the San, developed a Game Management and utilization Plan as required and approved by MET which ensures sustainable use of our resources and similarly we hope soon have Community Forest status, but no government authorities seem to be enforcing the law. Rather illegal grazers and settlers who are unsustainably using our resources and even denying us access to our own traditional resources are being allowed to do so unlawfully.
Those acting illegally may claim that in these times of drought that such laws should be relaxed, but those acting illegally have been doing so for many years, well before the drought and their unplanned and unsustainable grazing activities will just further the over grazing problems in communal areas where they have no rights.
Soon there will be very little land unfenced on which we can continue our livelihoods such as Devils Claw harvesting, MET gives us the permits to harvest, our community status gives us the rights to the areas where we can harvest, but often the area has been fenced off and we are threatened as we try to enter areas which are our right. We have been told to get a police escort if we want to enter these areas, but this is not practical and why should we get a police escort to access what is rightfully ours, while those acting illegally ignore the rights of others and the authorities are letting this happen.
We are inspired by our Presidents words in the Harambee plan, but the local authorities in our area are not acting in a way that will bring about the vision in that plan. Our basic rights are not being protected, if we have to struggle to uphold what is rightfully ours on a daily basis while our livelihoods are taken from us be other acting illegally how can we ever hope to have ‘a society where no one feels left out’ or achieve ‘prosperity for all’.
We call on the President and his good office to motivate the local authorities to address these injustices,so that we can work with the President to achieve the goals of Harambee which we also aspire to.