Namibian social media users took to Facebook in great numbers this week to respond to President Hage Geingob’s timely update on the land issue and the actions of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) group.
President Geingob, who has heartily embraced the use of social media to engage the public, posted an online statement on Monday night inviting the AR leaders to engage in dialogue.
He also said that government would – within the next three months – table concrete plans on a number of pertinent issues facing the nation, including the pressing housing issue, redistribution of land and the eradication of poverty.
The President said he is willing to discuss the concerns of the AR group, led by Job Amupanda, George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma. Within a short time his post had garnered more than 2,000 likes, over 500 responses and 400 shares.
In response, AR lynchpin Amupanda said there is commitment on both sides to engage in dialogue before the July 31 deadline set by AR. He said they have established contact and expected to meet with the President this week.
“There is commitment on our part to meet. We are waiting for a date to be confirmed,” he said.
In his post, President Geingob readily acknowledged that land is one of the key factors of production and an indispensable catalyst of economic growth. “Let me caution though, that it is crucial that we ensure that our citizens are equipped to transform the land into a revenue-generating asset or into a valuable estate.
“Just to get land and sit on it is not going to feed you or provide you with a house. That requires additional capital and skills, which many of the land applicants don’t have currently,” he wrote.
He said he understands fully that people want land, but argued that the activists should be genuine in their attempts to solve the land issue.
Furthermore, credit should be given to the Swapo government for the successes achieved thus far, he said.
“I am shocked when people say that nothing has been done during this time. Such individuals should pause and re-examine their conscience. I am confident, given our track record of solving major problems as government, combined with the collective spirit of our citizens rallying behind my clarion call of ‘One Namibia, One Nation’, that a solution to the land, housing and other problems can be found.”
He has been in government since independence, he said, but there is a significant difference between being a president and a mere member of a team. The new administration should be given sufficient time to roll out its programmes and the public should evaluate their performance at the end of the term, he advised.
He chided those who say, “Peace is boring”.
“Once the country starts burning these individuals will abandon ship and run to Europe from where they will point and say, “You see, that is Africa.”
Facebook user David Jason responded to the President’s post saying that peace would only be threatened if the government allows [Police Inspector General] Ndeitunga and his squad to use force against unarmed people come July 31.
“Landless people are not a threat to peace as your government tries to paint it. How does my setting up my kambashu in Rocky Crest threaten your peace in Auasblick? We just want a place to call home without a heavy 20 year debt resting on our shoulders”.