By Dr Vincent
ALLOW me space in your esteemed newspaper to posit sentiments on the alleged affirmative repositioning of land applications in Namibia. Namibia will have to face hurdles in this matter unless steps are taken to address this problem. The initial idealisation of the liberation struggle was that the motherland Namibia be ruled by its own natives. The fight was amongst addressing issues of land and freedom of the people.
In a state, a government is controlled by mainly the elite and this class is the one responsible to govern the country. At the helm of governance is a quest for good governance. Good governance entails that the stakeholders of government such as civil society, private organizations, the governed, executives and non-executives work together to achieve the common goals of good governance.
Essentially, the elite as a class is tasked with the accountability and responsibility of ensuring that good governance that emanated from the ballot box is upheld. Civil society should have an impact in assisting government to achieve good governance.
Importantly, Namibia is facing a dichotomy of a problem of land allocation to the landless. The landless are in two categories, viz. those living in cities and those living in rural areas or communal lands so to say. The question that comes to mind is: who is landless and who need the land and what kind of land in terms of land use is wanted?
There is always a problem with the elite in charge of governments of the world that they always pave ways for themselves and forget the ruled. In Namibia for example every town has enough space to allocate land to the landless, but the problem is not the land availability question, but the municipalities are incompetent and have failed the nation in addressing this matter. The second issue is the rules governing the land issues, which is complicating the whole matter. Colloquia are necessary to be engaged between government and the needy that need land. The pricing of land is another issue. The municipalities have problems with allocating land to those who need land. Investigations if conducted will show that the elite possess more land as compared to the youthful category.
In comparison, the youth are the ones who need space in cities and towns of the country to be able to have shelter because they are the ones still operational in terms of public and private sectors. Whenever you are in a working class, you need to have a house to operate from. If you investigate as to who rent houses in cities and towns, you will discover that the youth are the majority. The implications are that the sectional titles, flats and free-standing houses are costing the same rental fees and this will keep the youth poorer and poorer. Worse is that the rental fee is the same or even far too less for the person who pays the premium for the house he or she bought. They do not invest in the future, but are rather investing in temporary accommodation and when they retire they will not own any land for themselves and their children. This is the same like those people working in farmlands of Namibia who do not own land and when they become inactive as a result of ageing, they are thrown helplessly without any land of their own.
If this trend continues, in economic terms, it will mean that the youth who do not own land are there to benefit the ‘already rich’ people as they find accommodation in flats, sectional titles and free-standing houses. The rental fees do not allow the person to be economically viable for now and for the rest of his or her life. As a result, there will be always unrest until this problem has been addressed.
Farmland and communal land issues should now be put on hold and major tackles and strides should be directed on affording land and pricing for rental fees for the people living in cities and towns. In Africa at most, the elite are fighting for farmland, commercial and residential land; thus focusing on themselves than seeing the need to focus on the need of the electorate and the governed.
Some of the excerpts on land conflicts have been the major issues and these are: “The popularity which Mugabe enjoyed throughout Africa started dwindling as his reforms became very radical. Many dissenting voices started calling for his departure. President Festus Mogae of Botswana for example, described Zimbabwe as suffering from what he called ‘a drought of good governance.’ After President Mogae’s comments in 2002, Zimbabwe recalled its ambassador to Botswana. Relations between both countries have been far from good since then.”
“Another dissenting voice against Mugabe’s excesses was found in Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga. Based on his own difficult experience with Mugabe-like Moi Kibaki, Mr Odinga has openly called for the forceful removal of Mugabe. Odinga’s call added to earlier ones made by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the use of force to overthrow Mugabe to spare many innocent lives in Zimbabwe.”
“Among these dissenting voices, however, the one that struck the greatest impact was that of Nelson Mandela. The former South African President described Mugabe as ‘a tragic failure of leadership in Africa.’ This statement by Mugabe’s one-time brother in arms added value and weight to western calls for the ouster of Mugabe. It also revealed the depth of opposition to Mugabe’s reforms within Africa.”
However, while Mugabe continued to gain and lose sympathy in Africa, some African governments were busy making gains out of Zimbabwe’s misery. Nigeria, Sudan and the Central African Republic were among the many African states that enlisted the services of displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe. Nigeria’s Kwara state for example, experienced an agricultural revolution thanks to the expertise of these farmers. A report based on this success story reads as follows: “The Nigerian project has opened many doors and will continue to open more doors in other surrounding countries with private companies and government departments approaching us wanting to put together similar projects.”
Namibia is well established and is moving fairly well in the farmland issue, but should not force people out of their productive land and replace them with people who are unproductive. Removing people out of the land creates instabilities. The issue at hand now is not of the youth to own farms, but the elite are the ones aspiring to own land for farming purposes. The outcry from the youth is to reposition themselves with the city and town lands as the matters stand now.
• Dr Vincent Ntema Sazita is a senior lecturer at the International University of Management. The views expressed in this paper are his own and not necessarily that of IUM.