WINDHOEK – Ombudsman John Walters has given the Ministry of Land Reform until May 24 to provide his office with the master list of beneficiaries of the current land resettlement programme.
Walters, speaking to New Era on Wednesday, did not specify as to what actions his office would take if the deadline lapses without a response.
The request follows a demand by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement that the Office of the Ombudsman investigate how Vicky ya Toivo, the wife of the late liberation struggle hero Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, was allocated a resettlement farm recently.
Ya Toivo was among seven resettlement beneficiaries allocated resettlement farms in March this year.
Ya Toivo was allocated a farm measuring 2,376 hectares in the Omaheke Region, barely two weeks after the farms were advertised in local newspapers for allocation.
This raised eyebrows, with critics, specifically AR, questioning why Ya Toivo, who is not previously disadvantaged, as is a requirement, was allocated a resettlement farm.
The Ministry of Land Reform has in the past been reluctant to release the master resettlement list, despite accusations and suspicions by land activists last year that since the beginning of the resettlement programme politically-connected individuals have been favoured for resettlement.
New Era’s questions on the subject, sent five weeks ago to the ministry’s permanent secretary Peter Amutenya, have not been answered to date.
The ministry’s spokesperson Chrispin Matongela consistently said that Amutenya was “busy”.
In a letter to AR activist Job Amupanda on Wednesday, Walters said his office had decided to launch a systemic investigation into the complaints regarding the alleged unfair allocation of farming units by the Ministry of Land Reform.
“Your complaint is included in the investigation,” he said.
“The systemic investigation will be guided by the master list of beneficiaries, which we requested from the Ministry of Land Reform. We will inform you of the progress of the investigation,” he added.
Walters, speaking to New Era, appeared optimistic that the ministry would provide his office with the master list of beneficiaries.
“I spoke to the permanent secretary [Peter Amutenya] and he has promised to cooperate,” said Walters in a telephonic interview.
According to Walters the resettlement issue is not the only case regarding land his office is investigating. He said his office is also investigating why it is taking long for people to occupy the thousands of mass housing programme houses standing empty across the country.
Likewise, he said, his office is investigating why it is taking long for cases involving police officers to be resolved.