BWABWATA-The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs undertook a Fact-Finding visit to Bwabwata National Park from 14 March 2022 to 17 March 2022 prompted by a petition submitted to the National Assembly on 19 November 2021 by the Hambukushu Traditional Authority.
The petition titled “Petition on the Management of Bwabwata Communal Land by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism” is calling upon the National Assembly to revisit the Cabinet decision of 1999; that prohibits cattle in the Bwabwata National Park or any other Game Park in the North-East.
The petition also alleges that the proclamation of Bwabwata National Park of 2007 is illegal and therefore must be revisited and that the Hambukushu Traditional Authority be allocated a piece of land in the national park teeming with wildlife. The latter is among many other demands.
Hon. Kletus Karondo, Chairperson of the Committee led the delegation to Bwabwata national park in Kavango East region.
Hon karondo informed the affected communities that the Standing Committee has the duty to receive and consider petitions lodged by the general public, traditional authorities, civil society organizations, organized interest groups and stakeholders and make recommendations to the National Assembly.
“As provided for in the legal framework, it is the National Assembly that has the final decision to either agree or reject the Committee’s recommendations which are usually contained in a report,” said Hon karondo.
“It is the mandate of our Standing Committee to exercise parliamentary oversight on activities and programmes of Offices, Ministries and Agencies, responsible for constitutional and legal affairs and within the category of affairs such as access to justice, electoral processes, protection of human rights, combating of corruption, the judicious use of traditional authority, welfare and development of marginalized communities,” said Karondo.
The Hambukushu traditional authority leaders informed the committee that the Proclamation of Bwabwata National Park was done without proper consultations with the affected community.
Senior Traditional Councilors and headmen of the Hambukushu traditional authority further demanded that they (Hambukushu people) be given farming units in Bwabwata National Park. They called for wide ranging consultations with all affected parties in order to find an amicable solution to the protracted land dispute that has resulted in serious conflict between the Hambukushu community and the current occupants of Bwabwata namely the Kyaramacan Association.
The Kyaramacan Association strives to maximise the livelihood of the historically marginalised people living in the Park of which the majority are Khwe San. Others include the !Xun San and some Hambukushu.
The Executive members of the Kyaramacan Association in a separate meeting with the committee said that the Hambukushu Traditional Authority should respect the government policy which prohibits cattle from roaming the National Park. They also informed the committee that they are willing to engage in consultations for as long as the process is done procedurally and not through petitions. Both the Hambukushu Traditional Authority and Kyaramacan Association are claiming ownership of the land.
After hearing from the affected communities, the Committee is expected to engage the Ministry of Environment and Tourism at a later stage on the matter, and prepare a report that will eventually be tabled in the National Assembly for discussion and consideration.
Prior to the meeting with the affected communities, the committee paid a Courtesy call on Fumu of the Hambukushu Traditional Authority, Chief Erwin Munika Mbambo, Office of the Governor of Kavango East as well as the Councillor of Mukwe constituency Hon Damain Maghambayi where the Park is situated and discussed matters related to the committee’s visit in the area.