Land Reform Now More ‘Anxious’ – Gurirab

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, said the recently concluded motion in Parliament regarding the genocide by the Germans against the Namibian people had made the land reform issue more anxious. The Speaker made the observation yesterday morning during a courtesy meeting with the chairman of the German-Africa Foundation, Karl-Heinz Hornheus. The Speaker said the issue of land reform came out strongly during the genocide debate, adding that it was not only realized that there is great urgency to speed up the land reform process, but that there is also great anxiety. “There is that concern that government is maybe not doing enough to address the plight of those with land hunger.” Gurirab said the willing buyer, willing seller concept, which was adopted by government after the 1991 Land Conference, is slow and costly for government. The former Prime Minister also noted that the land reform process faces another dilemma – the process does not necessarily address the question of poverty. “If you give the poor the land it does not end the poverty because they cannot transform the land into an economically vibrant business.” Gurirab said land reform is one of those issues that government needs to address seriously in order to maintain peace and stability. The Speaker also informed Hornheus that the HIV/Aids pandemic is another big challenge for the Namibian government. “The pandemic is destroying the heartbeat of the society as it affects the young and vibrant individuals.” He said HIV/Aids is a paradox as it affects the countries with vibrant economics more. “In Southern Africa, the countries with relative good economies such as South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are the worst affected.” But the Speaker informed Hornheus that the country is making some progress in addressing the HIV/Aids problem, with the help of the United States through the Millennium Goal Project. The Chairman of the German-Africa Foundation enquired about the size of the executive of government in relation to the legislature. Gurirab acknowledged that the executive may be oversized compared to the legislature and noted that there might be a need to revisit the constitution. Gurirab said although he is in no position to tell the President of the country what to do, maybe the executive could be reduced. “Maybe not every minister needs a deputy minister and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning Commission could be combined.” Hornheus on his part informed the Speaker about the political situation in Germany. He further explained that the German-Africa Foundation is a pressure group for Africa and is based in Berlin. He noted that the foundation consists of former members of the German Parliament, former diplomats, former journalists and business personalities, all with a connection with Africa. Hornheus will pay a short visit to South Africa on Monday before he flies back to Europe.