Who are land ancestors, asks Geingob

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-President Hage Geingob said returning ancestral land, as demanded by some groups in the country, is a difficult undertaking especially with regards to deciding which ancestors – in a chain of many – should be considered as a benchmark for restoration.

The President also dismissed suggestions that government has failed to discuss the ancestral land issue after independence, especially during the 1991 land conference.

Geingob, who addressed Swapo Party members in the Khomas Region on Monday, said government spent sleepless nights interrogating the ancestral land question.

The ancestral land rights was not part of the many resolutions that were reached during the 1991 national land conference, hence the government could not implement it, the Head of State said.

Former lands deputy minister Bernadus Swartbooi started a series of meetings over ancestral land and is among those leading the Landless People’s Movement, which demands that ancestral land be returned mainly four tribes in the country.

The movement wants land to be returned to Ovaherero, Damara, Nama and San tribes.
In a recent interview with New Era, one of its founders, Henny Seibeb – when pressed on which ancestors should be used as a benchmark for restoration – said: “We can start from 1884 during which the ‘Scramble for Africa’ took place. The argument that the San are the authentic owners of land isn’t correct either. They did not own every piece of land across the whole sphere of the country.”

But President Geingob said there is a series of untruths being told about ancestral land in the country.

“We want those who are land greedy and hungry to tell us why they are greedy. Don’t say we didn’t discuss the ancestral land, it’s not true. It took us days to decide the question of ancestral land. We said who is going to claim it? It’s a very difficult issue,” he told a full packed Khomasdal hall.

Geingob announced recently that government has decided to postpone the re-tabling of the Land Bill in parliament in order to organise a national dialogue at which the land issue will be thoroughly interrogated.

“Let’s meet and interrogate this whole issue again. In democracy, countries don’t go to war if there is democracy. In Namibia, we don’t have to go to war because we have democracy,” he said this week.

“Who do we give Windhoek to? To whom does Windhoek belong? It belongs to all Namibians.”

“Germans grabbed the land in 1904. We [government] are not the ones who took the land. Now you are quarrelling with us as if we are the ones who took the land.”

“Why do they [critics] think a democratic government is against Namibians getting the land back, after all this Swapo government decided to fight to free the country,” he reacted.

He therefore called on all Namibians to hold hands and see how those who do not have land can be empowered.
Government is expected to hold the second land conference in September.

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