President Hage Geingob says his decision to meet leaders of the radical Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement tomorrow is in line with his philosophy of consolidating an inclusive government.
Geingob said he would meet AR leaders with a view to hammer out consensus on the burning land issue. He made the announcement yesterday during separate meetings with Windhoek city councillors and members of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), at State House.
The President said government has never denied that land is a problem.
“I told the politburo that as President I have to engage them [AR], in spite of them being expelled by Swapo – because I formed this government for all people,” said Geingob, who was part of the meeting that expelled AR trio Job Amupanda, George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma.
The same meeting expelled Dr Elijah Ngurare, secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL).
“I will meet them at 09h00 on Friday to hear their grievances and react. We cannot pretend we do not know their grievances because land is a problem,” said the President.
According to him, land and poverty are the biggest challenges facing the country.
“They [Swapo politburo committee and AR] met and discussed but the bottom line from their [AR] side is that 31 July will come,” he said, in reference to threats by AR to spearhead illegal mass land occupations countrywide on July 31.
He said that despite the three AR leaders’ expulsion he has an obligation as the country’s President to listen to their concerns.
Government took over the task to enter into dialogue with AR after a Swapo politburo committee discontinued discussions with the movement.
“This government has been in place for three months only – is it really genuine to ask for a solution in that period?” a puzzled Geingob asked.
Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua informed the President that there are
2 000 open plots around Windhoek, but they are not serviced due to financial constraints.
He said the council’s land application waiting list currently stands at 26 000, with some applicants having applied as far back as 2004.
“Since last year November we received 18 000 applications through AR. Of that number, about 800 applicants were already on the waiting list,” said Kazapua, who was accompanied by top officials from the city council.
He made it clear that AR applicants will not be given any special treatment.
“They must join the queue because we follow procedures at all times,” he said.
The meeting with city officials was attended by several ministers as well as the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga.
In a press release circulated yesterday, the CCN urged government to institute measures to reassess land ownership policies and laws, and address excessive land ownership by some individuals and/or families.
The church body also called on AR to give government more time to respond to the land issue in a well-strategized and planned manner.
“People of Namibia, please exercise restraint and patience, do not take the law into your own hands, and give the government an opportunity to address land and housing shortages,” pleaded the church umbrella body.