For some time now the debate over the land and housing issue has degenerated into an oversimplified slogan: ‘We just want land’. But, this is a very superficial approach to a complex issue. The fact is that land, in itself, is of no use to anyone.
To live a dignified life, people also need basic services such as running water, electricity, sewerage reticulation, roads, schools, clinics and so forth. Above all, to live happily, people need security, peace and lawful protection of their lives and property.
Without protection under the law we would invite sheer chaos in a world where anyone can grab what they want, without consequence. Who is to stop someone from grabbing tomorrow what you grabbed today? Who will protect your security of tenure if there is no legal basis for your claim to the land you grabbed?
The struggle for land and social justice is not a criminal matter, but a legitimate struggle and we should not allow anyone to criminalise the struggle of the landless people.
It must be understood that our republic and its constitution, however flawed, are products of our revolution and we must defend the gains of our long struggle, by any means necessary.
Let us not throw our precious baby out with the bathwater. We must give the new administration an opportunity to address these long-standing problems.
Under the constitution all citizens have the right to protest, and where necessary, can effect changes to out-dated laws in order to overcome the legacy of inequality and poverty, left by 100 years of colonial rule.
By threatening the integrity of parliament and the democratic process, we are opening up Pandora’s box, which we will never be able to close.
Parliament is, after all, an expression of the will of the people. We did not get our republic in a lucky-packet. It was the product of a long and hard struggle for democracy.
Whether we agree with the current administration’s approach to solving the land and housing question or not, the fact is that government was democratically elected, and by attempting to undermine it we are subverting the will of the people who elected this government. That is the danger that we must all heed and be cautious of. We must defend, by any means necessary, the democratic gains of the Namibian revolution.
At this time all citizens must rally to defend the integrity of parliament, and thus allow President Hage Geingob’s administration an opportunity to address the crisis of inequality it inherited. No doubt a large share of responsibility for the present crisis rests with the government, which did little to curb house and land prices. Private developers and estate agents were allowed to inflate the housing price bubble to the extent that fewer than one in ten households can afford a low-cost house today.
The developers were allowed to get away with daylight robbery for decades, but the new administration has clearly shown its determination to tackle poverty and inequality, without destroying the widely admired fabric of Namibian society.
The government today is highly progressive and exemplary when compared to dictatorial regimes in other parts of the world. We, therefore, need to defend the republic against those who would resort to terrorising our communities to advance dubious agendas.