Yes, your Excellency, against all odds and against the current you swam to welcome the land activists to State House, despite AR Mellitus, which over the past weeks, if not months, we have been made to believe is so contagious.
This did not bother you, even the seeming political incorrectness of everything that AR stands for, did not seem to bother you.
All you were and have been interested in, like a real captain of a ship predicted to be capsizing, was to develop a common understanding and eventually a solution to the vexatious land question and the attendant housing problem.
AR Mellitus and politicking aside; given the serious housing shortage in the country, the ruling party itself is supposed to have a better and deeper understanding about the issue at hand – especially with masses of people living in makeshift structures not fit to be called homes. Instead the party went to the extreme of severing all ties with the AR, and not wanting to have anything to do with it.
But Mr President, you showed that the matter at hand is above and beyond politicking, a serious matter of concern to all and sundry. Hence your willingness to meet the AR, not fearing that their supposed malignancy may rub off on you and the government.
One can liken it to the Biblical tale of the shepherd who left the whole flock to go in search of that one sheep that wandered astray.
Certainly the whole country must rejoice that the government and AR leaders have come to some understanding: an understanding that has – for now – averted the worst, a bloody confrontation that the country’s law enforcement agencies were preparing for.
With this new agreement in place the country has not only averted the worst, but the police force itself cannot but be eating humble pie, as they have been saved the shame of pouncing on their own people.
But this agreement is just the beginning. The clock only starts ticking now, looking at the content of this agreement in terms of its workability and viability, financially and otherwise.
Estimates of around a billion Namibian dollars are already being touted. This is considered in some quarters as astronomical, and indeed this is no small change (even for the government or any billionaire for that matter) but what would have been the cost of the predicted chaos that may have ensued?
As much as one would not want to join the bandwagon of doomsayers and detractors, who believed the AR and its leaders were so reckless and irresponsible as to drag the country into the calamity that false prophets and alarmists predicted they would, what is on the table now may not be the best blueprint.
But it is up to the roleplayers – and the country at large – to continue to refine the plan so that a lasting solution is found. Cognisance must also be taken of the fact that this blueprint may have been hatched in pressing circumstances.
Yet, there can be no denying that with it the country has been given a much-needed starting block. It is now up to the whole country – and one must emphasise ‘country’ rather than leaving this important matter solely in the hands of the government and AR – for the crucial impetus, refinement and most of all, effective implementation.
It is reported that the AR itself recently registered close to 50,000 applications for plots. This is in addition to the lists the various municipalities already have.
How to harmonise and integrate these lists may be a difficult balancing act. One cannot but wonder whether the negotiators have and are giving this due attention. Unless this is taken on board, and proper understanding is had on it, the agreement reached between the government and AR may prove not to be worth the ink and paper that it is drafted on.
Equally, one hopes that among the decision-makers there is full and due recognition of the astronomical scale – both in terms of cost and capacity – of the task of servicing 200,000 erven, and then eventually allocating these. The criteria for the allocation of these erven is surely something that must enjoy the due attention, wisdom and good judgment of all roleplayers.