Mar 13, 2013

Rehoboth Basters: Community Denounces New Deeds Legislation

Rehoboth Basters chief condemned merger bill which seeks to create one law to govern all property legislation in Namibia.

Below is an article published by

The Rehoboth Baster chief, Kaptein John McNab, did not mince his words when he condemned the Ministry of Lands and Resettlements' newly proposed Rehoboth Deeds Bill yesterday during a consultative meeting with Minister Alpheus !Naruseb.

"No, I am not a traitor and I will not betray my people, or rubber stamp what is being used to seal their ruin. This I refuse to do," McNab said.

If enacted, the bill would merge the Deeds Registries Act of 1937 and the Registration of Deeds in Rehoboth Act of 1976, thus creating one law that governs all property registration in Namibia, including property in Rehoboth.

The Deeds Registries Act is currently not applicable in Rehoboth since it has operated under a separate land registration system since 1976 with the enactment of the Registration of Deeds in Rehoboth Act.

!Naruseb criticised the applicability of this piece of legislation, saying Rehoboth property is being registered as if it is not part of Namibia.

The new bill has already been drafted, hence the consultative meeting with the Rehoboth Kapteinsraad, which reportedly is the first meeting between the current government and the council in nearly 23 years.

Yesterday's consultative meeting was the first the ministry held with residents of Rehoboth, and despite McNab's denunciation of the bill, !Naruseb said he would conduct wide-ranging consultations with all residents in the district.

The ministry is of the opinion that it is only a handful of firebrand Rehoboth Basters who are against the bill, and that the majority of residents in the area will embrace it.

!Naruseb said the new bill emanates from challenges experienced with regard to agricultural land held under undivided shares and its application in the implementation of the land tax.

He said the land registration system proposed within the Deeds Bill would facilitate land transfers, secure tenure and provide consistency.

"A tentative effort has been made within the legislation to ensure that people's land rights are properly registered and secured," !Naruseb assured.

But the Baster community under the Kapteinsraad is of the opinion that the Basters have been deprived of their land and rights to self-administration and self-determination, with large-scale alienation of property.

McNab said the current government in power since independence has never acknowledged the Kapteinsraad, and has taken unilateral decisions that are not informed by land ownership patterns under the Ancestral Laws [Voorvaderlike Wette] of the area and have resulted in "incalculable damage".

McNab said the government has deprived residents of the Rehoboth 'gebied' of their right to self-administration and self-determination, investments with commercial banks, budgetary administration, and all movable and immovable property.

He said even an insurance policy with Old Mutual taken out by the former Kaptein Hans Diergaardt and a member of the Kapteinsraad for the benefit of the Baster community was appropriated.

"Projects worth millions of dollars were allowed to run aground," McNab said.

Quoting a legal opinion made some time back, he said Government's decision to revoke the self-determination of the Baster community has led to the death of Rehoboth, amounting to genocide in terms of the Genocide Convention of 1948.

One of the outcomes of the alienation of rights, said McNab, is the prevailing chaos at Groot Aub, once part of the Rehoboth 'gebied', where "Baster land is being sold left and right".

"There is no respect for private property anymore," he said, charging that officials are uninformed and incompetent.

"The place is dirty and unhygienic and steadily becomes a breeding ground for crime, corruption and other evils. The most important reason for this is that political office bearers and officials are not called to order and are not being disciplined."

He said conditions at Rehoboth are no different from the mayhem at Groot Aub.

"If that is the only reason why our land was taken away, then it does not make any sense. The government of the day should be held accountable," he said.

"We want everything back your government has taken away from us. The full restitution of what was taken from us. With the best intentions in the world I cannot give my cooperation on the request for one constitution for Namibia, not before there is rectification of our grievances. We are no longer asking; we are now demanding what belongs to us."