KEETMANSHOOP: The Swapo-Party Youth League (SPYL) at Karasburg has voiced its disapproval over the government’s decision to evict 10 small-scale grape farmers at the Aussenkehr settlement.
“We openly and frankly condemn, disagree and express serious dissatisfaction in the action and manner these evictions were done.
Farmers’ pride and concerns were not addressed during this exercise,” read a media statement issued here by SPYL Karasburg District Secretary Eliaser Kandume on Wednesday.
The farmers are part of the Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) that started in 2001. They were evicted from the government vineyards in September this year after they decided to sell their produce to a Dutch-based company in 2010.
This was in violation of an agreement with the Agriculture Ministry that obliged them to sell their grapes to Cool Fresh Namibia (CFN), a service provider appointed by Government.
The youth wing stated that the evictions boost unemployment, and undermine the development of previously-disadvantaged communities in the district and region.
Furthermore, they described the move as a serious obstacle that suffocates and undermines Government programmes, such as community development and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).
“We are informed that about 300 seasonal and permanent workers are affected by evictions, and these include schoolchildren left in streets and no longer able to attend school and nothing to feed on,” the statement charged.
It continued that five companies, most of which are foreign-based, have been shortlisted to take over the operations of the plots, and the SPYL here totally disagrees with that.
The young politicians, therefore, suggested that Government gives these evicted farmers the land so that they form a corporative entity, and use the land as security for a loan from any financial institution of their choice.
The farmers have been trained for three years in grape farming. Therefore, they could be left on the plots to manage their own produce and seek their own markets for their products.
“The current service provider, CFN, should be excluded or separated from the Green Scheme project in order for farmers to identify their own service providers, if the need may occur,” said the statement.
In the meantime, the evicted farmers and their lawyers are preparing to challenge the government’s decision in court.
Aussenkehr is located some 24 kilometres from the Noordoewer settlement along the Orange River.